We live in community, eating and praying together. Although we do not take vows, we state our intention to stay here, in The York Oratory, until death. We have a saying that a Father of the Oratory should die in one of three wooden places: the predella in front of the altar, in the confessional, or in the pulpit. These three wooden places tell you the structure of our lives.
We try to celebrate the Church’s liturgy with reverence and due solemnity, using all that is good, true and beautiful to bring people to God. Music is especially important in our tradition, since St Philip Neri used music to attract others and was friends with great figures, such as Palestrina and Animuccia. Their music is still heard in our church today.
Our founder, St Philip Neri, heard hundreds of confessions every day and so the opportunity for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession is a vital part of our ministry. Confession is therefore available before every Mass, as well as on Monday - Saturday, from 11:30am to 12 noon at the Oratory Church. This is a great means of growing in holiness and converting our city.
To enquire about joining our community, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.
We do not take vows as we are a society of apostolic life. This means that we are apostolic priests who live in community with a Rule. This Rule, the Rule of our founder St Philip Neri, as well as the constitutions, apply to all oratories. We stay with the oratory we enter for the whole of our lives.
When St Philip Neri gathered followers around him in sixteenth century Rome, he met with them in a room above the church of San Girolamo. This room was called an ‘oratory’ – a place of prayer, and so later, when Philip gave a Rule to his priests, who lived together in community, they became the ‘Congregation of the Oratory’. This community was given papal approval in 1575, and after St Philip’s death in 1595, the Oratory spread to other places.
A Father of the Oratory stays in one place for his whole life. St Philip Neri became the third Apostle of Rome by sanctifying souls one by one for fifty years, never leaving the city. Each Oratorian house is independent, forming its own character while remaining faithful to the joyful charism St Philip set down for us, by his example.
In 2013 Bishop Terence Patrick Drainey invited the Congregation of the Oratory to make a foundation at St Wilfrid’s and the first Fathers arrived in October that year. In November 2019, Pope Francis permanently established the Congregation of the Oratory in York at St Wilfrid’s Church.
Yes, St John Henry Newman was an Oratorian and he founded the Oratory in England in 1848, at Maryvale in Birmingham. Eventually, the Birmingham Oratory made its home on Hagley Road in Edgbaston, where it remains to this day.