St John the Baptist Parish Church

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Vocational Training

Calling to the Ministry - life at Ripon College

We continue our series of articles on Hannah Brooks journey in the Ministry.  Her last article described her calling and selection.  Now she tells us about her start to Theological College training.


I last wrote in the St John’s News when I was about to leave for my training in Ripon College Cuddesdon. Now, some months later, I am just starting my second term and thought I would write a few lines to say what college is like and how I am getting on.

The average day at college begins with Morning Prayer at 7:30am which everyone is expected to attend, followed by an optional Eucharist at 8am. We then have breakfast in the large dining hall and then it is into a day of lectures.  Because I have done a theology degree before my timetable is not as busy as some peoples, but I attend lectures within the college in subjects such as ‘liturgy and worship’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘ministry’. Much of the community gathers for ‘Tea at 4’ and this is a good time to chat with friends around a roaring fire in the common room. We then have Evening Prayer at 5:45pm in the village church, just a couple of minutes walk from the college, or a Eucharist on a Wednesday evening. This is followed by dinner at 6:30pm. I am also involved in a number of activities within the college including football on a Sunday and Wednesday afternoon, and the Cuddesdon Junior Church which runs on a Wednesday evening for children of ordinands, of which there are about 40.

Another aspect of my training at Cuddesdon is placements. I am connected to a church called St Lukes in South Oxford, which I attend each Sunday and once during the week to get an idea of their work in the community. It is a small church, very different from St John’s as the worship is informal and we all sit around on sofas! However the people are very welcoming and there is a real community feel to the church, this is endorsed by social events such as ‘bring and share’ lunches.

On a Friday those doing the MTh (Masters of Theology) head into Oxford centre to attend a lecture and seminar with those from other training colleges doing the same programme. During this year I am expected to produce four essays, each of 7,000 words; the choice of topic is generous and I make up my own titles which is proving very interesting. So far I have written on ‘Is it ever justifiable for Christians to support war?’, and I am just starting an essay entitled ‘How does an understanding of the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross impact on those who suffer?’.

I am enjoying my training at Cuddesdon and look forward in excited expectation for what the next few months will hold.

Hannah Brooks