Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this extraordinary post of the Bishop’s Blog!
Yesterday, I was delighted to be asked to open the saved, transferred and newly-housed Talbot Collection of books at Liverpool Hope University – from the former Talbot Library in Preston – in our Diocese of Lancaster
I was very happy to do this – as the Diocese of Lancaster and Liverpool Hope , through a careful and close negotiation and collaboration have managed to keep this collection intact and in the Northwest of England following the Library’s closure in Preston in December 2014 – geographically close to our Diocese and with the benefit that this collection is used at the service of young people and others in their education and research but also kept safe and well in expert and secure facilities.
The word ‘Catholicism’ implies a complex interweaving of intellectual and cultural tradition. At heart, the notion of ‘Catholicism’ embraces a world-view that is profoundly open to the many ways in which God is revealed and acts in the world and to the breadth of human experience that articulate the opening to and response to God’s presence and work. A Library, therefore, that is authentically ‘Catholic’ necessarily should reflect all that. We should not be surprised to find there the works of the great Catholic theologians and philosophers, nor the accounts of the lives of the saints and documents of a historical nature; but we should also expect shelf-space to be given to Catholic culture – to art, architecture, music and literature.
It is a tribute to the wisdom of those, who over the years, have been responsible for the collection and curation of the Talbot Library that they have tendered an authentically Catholic Library – and one with a particularly local flavour. Indeed, if you were seeking to research the particular flavour of Catholicism in the North West of England, then this Library is particularly appropriate and sets the benchmark. From the 50,000 or more volumes that it contains, there are – at least – it seems five sections that support its claim to be a truly ‘Catholic’ collection.
- The collection of early printed texts relating to the recusant period of English Catholic history: this forms the perfect complement to the Gradwell Library from the former Upholland College and is now housed in state-of-the-art, temperature and humidity-controlled, collections vault.
- The superb collection of the works of Bl John Henry Newman and of secondary studies on him; again, this complements the Gradwell collection and in many regards ensures its currency.
- The impressively comprehensive collection of Catholic Directories, stretching back to the very end of the penal period. These books may not make the most gripping of reading, but they provide detailed regular ‘snapshots’ of the changing fortunes of the Catholic community across nearly two hundred years of history.
- The collection of Irish material: one of the key features of the Catholic community here in the North West is the significant – and continuing – contribution to its life, its spirituality and its culture of by Irish émigrés and by generations of their descendants.
- The G.K Chesterton collection: a reminder that Catholicism extends into culture and intellectual thought.
These five areas are only indicative (of more) – this Collection needs to be ‘unlocked’ or generously browsed in its new surroundings and I was made aware that Liverpool Hope have several initiatives planned to do just that! There is an invitation here to touch the history of the Catholic community, to discover the depth of its intellectual and cultural traditions and to probe and understand of what uniquely it offers to our own times.
The Diocese of Lancaster is pleased to know with confidence that the Talbot Collection is in good hands at Liverpool Hope University in the Sheppard-Worlock Library – now holding one of the best collections of Roman Catholic literature in the country.
Happy Advent everyone!
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster