Whatever I may have learnt about my spiritual life (or not, as the case may be) during the recent Clergy Retreat at Ushaw College, I did learn that Ushaw suffers from a kind of split mentality. There is the seminary-side of the College, with the students (maybe about twenty-five) and the professors inhabiting the main block of the College buildings - they conduct their services of worship in St Joseph's chapel (which used in my time to be the chapel where the College servants attended Mass on Sundays), and they eat somewhere but not in the Refectory.
Then there is the other side - the Conference Centre business side, which inhabits the new East Wing, the old New Wing in the west part of the College, the Refectory and St Cuthbert's chapel.
Somehow these two sides of the College exist together, but without ever seeming to meet. It struck me that without the Conference Centre business the College itself would not be able to survive: I heard someone during the Retreat say that the authorities hope to make this arrangement much more permanent in the future, as a part of the Trust which governs the use of the buildings.
However that may be, we were all asked to promote a new venture by the Conference Centre, namely their Sunday Lunches in the Refectory. These lunches will be open to all comers, provided you book beforehand, They are offering "Delicious 2 course carvery served meals in our stunning refectory" (so says their publicity). The cost is £9.95 per head (Children under 12 £7.95).
Booking is essential: by phone 0191 373 8502; by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So if you are in, or are visiting the north-east of England, there will be a welcome for you, on a Sunday, between 12 pm and 2 pm, for a very pleasant lunch, with enjoyable food and service at Ushaw College. Provided that you book ahead.