Maryvale lies at the centre of the ancient settlement of Oscott, about five miles from Birmingham City Centre. With its charming buildings, in which Christian values and prayer are almost tangible, its long and interesting history and peaceful grounds, Maryvale is spiritual ‘home’ to many.
It has been the aim of the Maryvale Institute from its inception to provide opportunities for lay people, clergy and religious to achieve a deeper understanding of the faith and to appreciate more clearly its joyful message for the lives of individuals and communities. Maryvale stands within the Catholic theological tradition, whose riches it seeks to explore, and draws from that tradition an insistence, not only on the foundational importance of faith for theological reasoning, but also on the place of reason in the response of faith. In pursuance of this, the Institute provides opportunities for Catholic formation and education through courses across a wide range of subjects and levels.
Maryvale has a well-equipped library, where internet access and computers are available to students, together with multi-media and audio-visual resources. The House can accommodate up to 150 people on a daily basis in its lecture, conference and seminar rooms, and has study bedrooms to accommodate 40 students. The Bridgettine Sisters welcome guests and maintain a regular cycle of prayer in the Chapel. The Shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a popular place of pilgrimage. The grounds include a Rosary walk with Stations of the Cross, ample car parking, and easy access to numerous sites of historic interest, Oscott College, the Birmingham Oratory and Birmingham City Centre.
A Historic Spiritual Environment for Academic Work
Maryvale occupies a unique place in the history of the Catholic Church in England. Catholic worship has been celebrated continuously on the site for over 1000 years. The oldest part of the present building, originally called Oscott House, was the home of the Bromwich family, and the base for the local Catholic mission during the 17th and 18th centuries. Andrew Bromwich was one of the last priests to be imprisoned towards the end of the penal period, and when he inherited the family house he gave it over for the use of the Church as the English mission emerged from the shadows with the gradual relaxation of the anti-Catholic laws.
From 1794 to 1838 it became the first seminary established in England and, being placed under the patronage of Our Blessed Lady, became known as St Mary’s College, Oscott. When the seminary was relocated to a new and larger building in 1838 (in the area of Birmingham that is still called New Oscott) it was used as a school until in 1846 it became the home of Blessed John Henry Newman and his community of fellow converts. Following ordination in Rome, he established the first English Oratory there and renamed the house Maryvale.
After the Oratory moved to central Birmingham, Maryvale briefly became the novitiate for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and was visited by their founder, St Eugene de Mazenod. Then for nearly 130 years, it housed an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy until they left in 1980 when it assumed its present role as an institute for adult faith formation.
Maryvale also contains Britain’s first public shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, established by Bishop Milner in 1814, who built a small chapel to house an image of the Sacred Heart painted in glass as described by Saint Gertrude. The monthly first Friday devotions are held in the Institute chapel, and there is an annual novena leading up to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and culminating with a pilgrimage mass on the Sunday following.
Maryvale Chapel remained as the parish church and the centre of the local Catholic community until the new church of Our Lady of the Assumption was opened in the 1950s to accommodate the needs of the expanding Maryvale parish.
So as well as being a specialist educational centre, Maryvale is a place of worship, a place of pilgrimage and a spiritual community of prayer and mission. In 1999 sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget - the Bridgettines - came to live at Maryvale in a new convent financed by Saint John Paul II. In addition to a deep devotion to our Lord’s sufferings and to the Blessed Sacrament, which is regularly exposed for adoration in the chapel, the sisters’ special charisms are contemplation, hospitality and prayer to foster unity among Christians.
The integration of study and prayer is a feature of all Maryvale courses and students participating in the day or short residential programmes at the Institute enjoy teaching and learning opportunities united to a cycle of prayer and worship, including Mass and the Divine Office.
A Place of Study
A Unique Academic Environment
Maryvale is committed to the highest academic and professional standards and is recognised internationally for these standards and its unique opportunities for distance learning based upon the Catholic philosophy of learning for life.
Whether you are training for a special ministry in the Church, looking for professional development, or seeking personal growth, Maryvale offers courses for all. It can help whether you are faced with the challenge of assisting in the parish, instructing a parish Confirmation group, or if you hope to stretch your academic capacity at masters or doctoral level.
All of Maryvale's courses can be audited
If you would like to follow one of Maryvale's courses without presenting work or seeking a qualification you are welcome to do so. All of the courses can be followed simply for one's personal interest and development. Students taking a course in this way receive the modules and follow the course without being eligible for a qualification.
Many Further Education courses allow for the study of individual modules for those wishing to study a particular area; read the individual course pages for further information.
Special rates and arrangements are available for those wishing to use the Certificate in Studies of the Catechism in Formation Programmes for Religious and Pre-Seminarians (formerly Course for Religious).
Maryvale Institute's Vision and Mission
The vision for Maryvale Institute, as per the Trust Deed, is to be a diocesan, national and international college which:
- Lives and presents the Catholic faith, morality and its contribution to contemporary religious, moral and ethical issues;
- Provides a range of formation courses offered primarily, but not exclusively, to lay and consecrated religious members of the Church, especially those involved in catechesis or other lay apostolates;
- Takes a self-critical stance as an academic community in monitoring and evaluating its own courses and methods in the light of evidence gathered internally and that provided by external agencies to ensure the highest possible standards and relevance of its academic activities;
- Develops its courses and other activities according to the findings of ongoing evaluation procedures and in response to changing needs in the wider community, as advised by the Board of Trustees;
- Develops collaborative partnerships with other centres of Catholic theological education in the UK and elsewhere, and other UK higher education providers;
- The Mission of Maryvale Institute is to be a leader in the provision of lifelong learning for all, and research opportunities, in Catholic Evangelisation, Catechetics, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education in order to serve Christ’s mandate and his Church’s mission of evangelisation in contemporary society. This provision is a distinctive combination of the methodology of distance learning and critical engagement with the Word of God in Scripture and Tradition, guided by the Church’s Magisterium. This work is carried out within an environment of Christian Faith, of academic and administrative quality, of open dialogue and the mutual valuing of the work, gifts and the personal and professional development of every member of the Institute.