Catholic Life at Downside
Downside has a special place in the hearts of many Catholics. For over four hundred years the School has offered a Catholic education to children of many different backgrounds and countries.
We hope that you will choose Downside to inspire your child to love God and to express their love in generous service of others. We believe that as children grow in faith, their academic work improves, their lives become more fruitful, they form better relationships with others, they contribute more generously to the life of the community, and they are prepared for the joys and tribulations of adult life when they leave Downside.
Downside warmly welcomes families and children from other Christian denominations, who are able to appreciate the School’s distinctively Catholic and Benedictine character.
The Sacraments lie at the heart of the School’s life. Mass is celebrated on Sundays and Feast Days in the Abbey Church and all pupils in School are expected to attend and parents are most welcome to come to the celebration. In addition, there is a voluntary weekday morning Mass celebrated in the Old Chapel. Pupils are invited to serve at Mass as members of the Sacristy, or to read or sing in the Schola Cantorum (choir). The Old Chapel and the Abbey Church are always open for those who, as St Benedict says, just want to go in and pray.
Retreats are offered to all the pupils during the year. Every year pupils have a retreat tailored to the needs of their year group and intended to help them focus on some aspect of their faith. Pupils and their families are invited to attend the annual Easter Retreat at the school and Sixth Form pupils are invited to join the Order of Malta Volunteers’ pilgrimage to Lourdes every summer. The OMV was established by Downside in 1974.
“The way in which the school lays down the foundations of faith – whatever the pupils then go on to make of it – is widely praised; ‘an anchor for life’, as one father put it.” Good Schools Guide
“The pupils’ lives are imbued with a strong sense of the spiritual.” ISI Inspection Report January 2013