Study Centre history


Overton House

History at Overton House

BSAC 1986-2009

The history of Ealing Abbey’s adult education programmes began as the inspiration of Abbot Francis Rossiter OSB and Dom Dustan Watkins in 1986. Abbot Francis had been approached by some members of the monastic community about the need to encourage adult learning and spirituality for members of parish and school and the then existing Meditation Centre.

As a result of this initiative various monks were sent to study for Theology at Heythrop College with the aim of teaching courses in a future Study Centre. The idea or vision also caught the imaginations of Br Placid and Br James Leachman OSB who were then monks in temporary vows. Br Placid gained a first class degree in Theology at Heythrop College and Br James studied for an MTh in Pastoral Theology at Heythrop and then a License and Doctorate in Sacred Liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, Sant’Anselmo, Rome.

This long preparation was brought to fruition in 1992 when BSAC was established in Overton House by Abbot Laurence Soper.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor blessed Father Martin Shipperlee as abbot of Ealing in 2000 and Abbot Martin confirmed the work of the Benedictine Study & Arts Centre, based on the twin monastic emphasis of hospitality and community life.

BSAC 2009-2014

In the period 2009-2014 we worked to improve our delivery of teaching and to increase the number of students. To this end we actively planned to develop towards both “liberal arts” awards and graduate level short courses liturgy in collaboration with other accrediting institutions. We worked with The University of London International Programmes and the Liturgy Institute, London (Institutum Liturgicum in Anglia et Cambria)

We understand Monastic mission as the intention to include others in the extended life of reflection of the vowed monastic community. From 1992 to 2o15 the Benedictine Study & Arts Centre aimed in this way to create an environment for Christians and others to come together, deepen their understanding and appreciation of the Benedictine traditions of Liturgy and the Arts, and of Catholic Theology and so be formed for lay and ordained ministry.  Since the formation of BSAC, we worked to establish an identity that guarantees a learning standard which is equivalent to first year University level; that aims to give access to all, and especially those without qualifications.

Students and volunteers share in aspects of monastic life by both partaking in courses of study and by learning to understand the monastic tradition of hospitality, fidelity and a life centred on community, reflection and prayer.

We maintain contact with other adult religious education centres. In the past we have been members of ACATE (Assoc. of Centres for Adult Theological Education). In addition to our own and Birkbeck College courses, in the past we have offered University accredited modules from the Certificate in Evangelism Studies (Evangelisation) validated by the University of Leeds.

BSAC in transition 2015 to Benedictine Institute and College4Life

Following Dom James’ retirement from teaching at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome, he was asked to develop BSAC into a more viable enterprise. This required him to consult widely and to ask Fr Abbot and the monastic community to support him in making strategic decisions.

Benedictine Institute 2015 –

In 2015 Fr Abbot and the monastic community gave the legacy of BSAC a double pronged remit: Benedictine Institute appeals to a specifically Benedictine and Christian constituency. College4Life appeals to an Interfaith and no faith constituency in order to provide a viable and coherent legacy to our project for Adult Education.

Contact us: Clare Cogswell (Office)
Fr James Leachman O.S.B. (Principal)
Fr Daniel McCarthy, O.S.B. (Head of Latin)

© James Leachman, O.S.B., updated JL 28 March 2016