Blackfriars Alumni

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Alumni Stories - Brenden Thompson, Interview

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recent Blackfriars alumnus Brenden Thompson talks of his time at Blackfriars and how it has been (and continues to be) a profound influence on his life.

1. How did you come to study at Blackfriars, Oxford?
I love studying theology. My background was originally in youth ministry and began my life of study by completing a foundation degree in youth ministry at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. This initial study started a hunger for truth and a love of theology that has never left me. This theological hunger was sustained after the foundation degree by completing a BA in Theology & Religious studies, again at St. Mary’s. After finishing my undergraduate studies I was keen to continue to grow and develop. I had already fallen in love with Dominican Spirituality and Thomistic theology, so being accepted into Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, was a dream come true.

2. Tell us about your time at Blackfriars.
I loved my time at Blackfriars and look back with fond memories. There is an intimacy and an eccentricity that makes Blackfriars sui generis. When entering Blackfriars, one is immediately struck by how small it is, which is part of its great charm. Its size necessitates an intimacy you would not otherwise get at others colleges. I found this reassuring. It also meant that whenever one walked in the JCR (Junior Common Room) one could reasonably expect to see a friendly face and have a stimulating conversation. Likewise, one goes to Oxford and expects a level of eccentricity and Blackfriars does not disappoint, the breadth and depth of learning and the charisma of various personalities bursting at the seams of the Priory is awe-inspiring. The sheer diversity of characters really give you a sense of the catholicity of the Church.

3. What have you been doing since your graduation?
My MTh (Master of Theology) studies were in the field of Pastoral Theology. I wanted solid training from a Thomistic perspective to equip me for teaching and preaching to support the mission of parishes in the UK. I have recently been inspired to establish a Catholic charity called Signs of Life which aims to make disciplemakers: raise up proactive local lay leaders in parishes across the UK. Critical in this enterprise, I believe, is providing Catholics in parishes with solid formation in the richness of the Catholic life and teaching. To that end, I am very glad to continue to rely upon the support and encouragement of the connections built at Blackfriars with the Dominicans of the English Province.

4. How did your time in Blackfriars influence the direction of your life?
Being at Blackfriars has added immense value to my life, both intellectually and spiritually, and has increased my capacity in so many ways, which I will appreciate and rely upon for the rest of my life. I often say that Dominicans helped teach me to ‘think’ in a robust and incisive way. My time at Blackfriars has been one of many important ‘signposts’ in my life, pointing me deeper into the heart of the Church so that I might do the same for others.

5. What are your fondest memories?
My fondest memories revolve around three places: the refectory, the common room and the library: the refectory, I will always remember as a place of great company, conversation and marvellous home-cooked food; the common room fostered bonds of fellowship I still enjoy to this day; and finally the library was a place where I enjoyed many moments of wonder and revelation as my horizons expanded through the process of study.

What's your story? We love to hear from Blackfriars alumni, so send us an email and tell us what you are doing now!

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