Fr David Elliott has been our Acting Chaplain for this academic year, at the end of which he will resume his full time role as Head of Theology. Fr Elliott has done an excellent job in this role and we thank him warmly for his service this year. The recent Corpus Christi celebration and procession, which Fr
Elliott coordinated, will be remembered by many as a highlight of this challenging year.
I am delighted to announce that the Governors have appointed Fr David Rocks OP (Order of Preachers) to be Chaplain to The Oratory School from September 2021.
Fr Rocks is a Dominican Friar, currently based at Blackfriars in Oxford. Originally from Newry in Northern Ireland he received a First Class degree in Music from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, before continuing his studies with a BPhil at the Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and for the priesthood at Blackfriars Studium in Oxford and the Angelicum (the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas) in Rome.
Fr Rocks was clothed in the Dominican Habit in 2002 and ordained to the Priesthood in 2010. From 2011 to 2020 he worked in Leicester, as Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross, Catholic Chaplain to the two universities in that city, Honorary Chaplain to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Chair of Governors of Holy Cross Catholic Primary School. In his time in Leicester he was involved in the events surrounding the discovery and subsequent reinterment of the remains of King Richard III.
Unsurprisingly for a music graduate, one of Fr Rocks’s main interests is music: he has a keen interest in Irish folk music in particular and has been involved in the development of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Britain (the worldwide organisation for the promotion of Irish Music). He is an enthusiastic speaker and promoter of the Irish language and is interested in the whole range of Celtic languages. Aside from this he enjoys the theatre, opera, art and history, gardening, indoor plants, wildlife and watching sports: he is a great enthusiast for An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael (GAA - Gaelic sports) and has been involved in the development of that organisation in Britain. He supports Leicester City Football Club.
Fr Rocks will be at school on four days each week, including for Sunday Mass, and will stay overnight some days each week.
In our discussions with Fr Rocks, the governors and I were hugely impressed by his warmth, experience, integrity and good humour and we are confident that he will prove a kindly and caring pastor for all members of our community, wherever they are on their journey of faith.
Fr Rocks is perhaps particularly suitable to act as Chaplain to Newman’s School given the long, close connections between the Dominicans and the Oratory. St Philip Neri said that everything good in him was learnt from the Dominicans at San Marco in Florence, and used to take the Dominican novices from the Minerva for picnics. The ethos St John Henry sought to create in founding The Oratory School is one that follows the same tradition as the Order of Preachers. St Thomas Aquinas formulated the Dominican
motto, Contemplata aliis tradere, (to pass on to others the fruit of contemplation) which is very similar to Newman’s idea of heart speaking to heart. We are delighted that Fr David will be able to bring his own Dominican charism, while cultivating and enriching our own unique Oratorian spirit. He has a wide pastoral experience, united with a solid academic rigour, and we hugely look forward to welcoming him to our school community for the new academic year.
Joe Smith, Head Master
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