Jan 30 2018

Cate Irvine

We recently caught up with Reverend Cate Irvine, to find out how the Holocaust Memorial Day Service went on Sunday, what her role as Coordinating Chaplain entails and what she enjoys most about working with students and colleagues from across the College. 

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as Coordinating Chaplain?

As Coordinating Chaplain I look after our Multifaith Chaplaincy Team which works with both students and staff across College regardless of their beliefs.  We look after the Chapel and the Muslim Prayer Room and try to make spaces and opportunities for all forms of mainstream worship on campus.  Before coming here I was a parish priest in the Church of England for nearly 10 years and I have been here at Royal Holloway for seven years this April.

2. What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy working with such a wide range of people.  It is a great privilege to be alongside people in their daily lives, and I feel very proud to be able to provide settings for people of different beliefs to find out more about each other.  It is fascinating to learn about the rich variety of religious beliefs here on campus and I hope that through our work will can help to equip people to both develop in their own faith whilst engaging positively with people who think differently to themselves.

3. What does a typical working week look like for you?

My working week can vary enormously, but will usually be a mix of seeing people one to one, worship in Chapel, meetings and planning.  Depending on where we are in the academic and the church year I may be focusing on a large service or event.  We also work with wider groups such as local faith groups and sometimes we have people who are exploring their vocation on placement with us.

4. How was the Holocaust Memorial Day Service on Sunday?

For this moving service in Chapel we were delighted to welcome Rabbi Kath Vardi from North West Surrey Synagogue as our preacher as well as members of the congregations from the synagogues at Staines and Weybridge.  The president of our Jewish Society led the prayer to remember the six million people who died in the holocaust.  The opening address was given by the Assistant Chief Constable for Surrey Police, Nev Kemp, both he and Rabbi Vardi addressed this year’s theme of “The Power of Words” reminding us how we can use language to both hurt and to heal.

5.  What would be your favourite service in the Chapel across the whole year?

I find the solemn services for Ash Wednesday and Passiontide very moving and I love the celebration of Foundation Day at the end of the academic year, but if I had to pick just one it would have to be the services of Lessons and Carols at the end of term one.  The words and music seek to convey what it means for the love of God to be present among us and after all the hard work of preparation, to see the Chapel looking so beautiful and to sense the enjoyment that the worship brings is very special.

6. How do you work with other departments across the university?

The Chaplains are available to see students and staff by appointment.  Often people get in touch directly, but they may be referred by their department or a colleague in professional services.  We also run events throughout the year and we try to ensure that they will be of wider interest to the college, such as our Chaplaincy lecture earlier this month by Rev. Canon Mark Oakley, exploring the use of language in faith and poetry.

7. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. How does Multifaith Chaplaincy at Royal Holloway help people to discover more about themselves?

Multifaith Chaplaincy is very much involved with helping people find their ‘why’.  I believe that whether you are a student or a member of staff, university is a fantastic place for exploring what shapes and motivates you and a large part of what we do is trying to create spaces and opportunities for people to do just that both as individuals and in coming together as people with a wide range of beliefs.