We are delighted to announce the appointment of Fr Michael Patey to the position of Priest Chaplain.

Fr Michael is a priest of the diocese of Northampton and has been a teacher of Mathematics at Downside for nearly three years now. Fr Michael served for two years as curate in Bedford and then four years as parish priest in Luton. He has experience of prison chaplaincy in Bedford Jail, and several years as RC chaplain to the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital. He has been a chaplain and governor to three schools before coming to Downside.

Fr Michael’s career path in fact began in teaching before he discerned his call to the priesthood. Following seminary studies in Rome, he was ordained as a priest in Northampton Cathedral on Our Lady’s birthday, 8th September 2012.

He spent six years in full time active ministry. Then, after a period of discernment and with his Bishop’s full approval, he made the decision to focus on his vocation as a teacher, initially in Southend and then here at Downside. 

Being a teacher at Downside, within a community which he has found spiritually, pastorally and intellectually stimulating, has brought him personal and spiritual renewal. During the course of the last year, he felt called to return to the full exercise of his priestly vocation and approached his Bishop to discuss this. 

The announcement of the departure of the monks obviously instigated much thought and discussion about how we, here at Downside, can maintain and continue to develop the School’s Catholic and Benedictine life. Head Andrew Hobbs approached Fr Michael about the role of Priest Chaplain. Fr Michael, coincidentally, was due to meet Bishop David Oakley to discuss a return to full active ministry. He expressed interest in applying for the position of Priest Chaplain at Downside, subject to agreement from both his Bishop and the Bishop of Clifton. This permission was granted and, following discussions with the Abbot and Dom James Hood, and after an interview with Giles Mercer (Chair of Governors), Anne Barrett (Bishop’s representative on the Governing Body) and the Head, we were able to appoint Fr Michael as Priest Chaplain.

Fr Michael will play a central role in the chaplaincy team but at the same time his ability to support pupils’ progress in mathematics will be highly beneficial. To have a priest working among us in a teaching role, supporting our sacramental and spiritual life, is a great gift to the community.

As we embark on this new chapter in Downside’s history, it is hugely encouraging that we are able to appoint from within our community someone with such a deep understanding of and commitment to our Benedictine vision of education.