Corpus Christi Catechetical Institute opened in Bayswater, London, in October 1965. It occupied the former Sisters of Sion Convent on the corner of Denbigh Road and Chepstow Villas in W11. Its purpose was to lead the field in developing and purveying new methods of religious education in Catholic schools throughout the country. It represented the project of the Bishops in England and Wales in harnessing the new Catechetical Movement that had developed in the early 1960s, together with new ideas associated with the Second Vatican Council.
I do not intend here to speak about the origins new Catechetical Movement – this subject would require particular treatment – but rather to highlight the influence of Corpus Christi College in the life of the Church in this country, and in particular, the damage it did to religious education in the decades that followed. It is important to note however, that the teaching document of the Second Vatican Council on Religious Education – Gravissimum Educationis – was only promulgated on 28th October 1965, just after the opening of Corpus Christi College. The association of “new ideas’ with the Second Vatican Council is a whole story in itself, one which has been at the heart of the problem for forty years, and which is now at last being overtaken by the real teaching of the Council and by a genuine Catechetical Movement.
In the summer of 1965, even before Corpus Christi had opened its doors, the Principal of the College, Fr Hubert Richards, was saying that there were already more applicants than places. Many teachers had applied to their Local Education Authority, and had been granted paid leave so as to attend the year-long course in Bayswater. (Catholic Herald, 6th August 1965)
The above photo was taken earlier this year of the main entrance to the former Corpus Christi College. The building has been converted and is now private residential apartments.