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Spiritual Life

We aim to bring the Christian experience to every area of life at Ampleforth College. 

Drawing on a 1500 year tradition of Benedictine education, we foster a full understanding of Benedictine values and provide the important foundations for our pupils to continue their journey of faith into adult life. Spiritual life is the source of our personal and intellectual growth, unifying our experience around the whole person.

The spiritual life of the school is overseen by the Dean, Fr Ambrose Henley. Fr Ambrose is a monk of Ampleforth Abbey. 

House Chaplains are available to all pupils to offer spiritual advice and guidance, supporting and coordinating closely with the Houseparent who has responsibility for pastoral care. The House Chaplain is also responsible for helping shape the daily prayer and sacramental life of the boarding house. 

The Abbey Church provides a central focus for the spiritual life of the school where the entire community comes together to celebrate Mass on Sunday mornings.


At Ampleforth, our faith underpins and nourishes everything that we are. The Ampleforth community provides richly for the spiritual needs of students and their families.

Our rootedness in Benedictine values is very precious and makes Ampleforth the special place it is; the monks of Ampleforth Abbey are valued as spiritual fathers, and chaplains to the College, ministering to both students and staff alike.

Students enjoy a wide programme of daily prayer, centredness on scripture, retreats, sacramental provision, spiritual accompaniment and a growing range of service projects. They are encouraged early on to take up roles of spiritual leadership, in prayer and in service, not only sustaining them here and now, but preparing them for adult life in the wider world. There should be something at Ampleforth for every heart and every schedule.

The central Chaplaincy exists to encourage the regular formation of the faith of the students, the voluntary participation by students in their faith, the Benedictine spirit of the school among students, staff and parents, and the connection of students with the wider Church and world.

The sacramental life of the school is centred on the Abbey Church. At the Sunday Mass students of different ages enhance the liturgy through serving, reading and singing.  In addition, each boarding house has its own Chapel and Chaplain and celebrates Mass during the week.

Year 13 students are trained and commissioned as Eucharistic Ministers. The Eucharist also forms the culmination of the different retreats offered to students, sometimes even celebrated outside.

Students are offered the chance to make their confession once a term. These Reconciliation services are organised by each house, with the chaplaincy providing confessors. Students who are not Catholic have the opportunity at these services to receive prayer and a blessing.

In each House a senior student is nominated to be a catechist. This means being involved in the spiritual formation of fellow students, including a special role in preparing people for Confirmation. They do this under the direction of the central chaplaincy, being trained at the beginning of the year and preparing each weekly session with the chaplaincy assistant.


Year 9

Before the first exeat in September, Year 9 students take a day to take stock of their faith at the start of their time at Ampleforth and consider how they can become part of the Ampleforth Community.

Year 10

In the summer, students have a day of retreat during which they have a chance to engage with various forms of traditional prayer and meditation.

Year 11

The Year 11 retreat involves a day near Whitby directly after mock examinations. Students are asked to reflect on the connection between their friendships and their faith.

Year 12

The Year 12 retreat relies on the generosity of host sites around Yorkshire and Teesside, who enable students in small groups to learn about service in local communities.

Year 13

A powerful retreat for our oldest students who are given the chance to look back over their time at the College and look forward to their sense of calling beyond school.



In October all students have a day of retreat in their Houses. The focus and character of the day will have been carefully planned by the House Chaplain and House Team.

Catechists Retreat

Student Catechists take part in full day retreat together in October on the coast to help them prepare for the important task of catechising younger students in preparation for their Confirmation. They are commissioned in the Abbey Church during High Mass before the half-term break.

Confirmation Retreat

In January all students preparing to be confirmed are asked to take part in a half day retreat in order to help them reflect on the course of catechesis so far and look forward to the remaining preparation ahead. Students enrolled on the Anglican Confirmation programme are also invited to attend this retreat.

Parents Retreats

Prior to each of the Year Group Parents Days, parents are invited to join in a day of reflection led by the Chaplaincy team.


The sacramental life of the school is centred on the Abbey Church.

Sunday Mass is the heartbeat of the week, and Reconciliation services are held on weekday evenings. Below we outline the key aspects of sacramental life in the school.


Confirmations take place at Ampleforth every year in the summer term. In the autumn term House Chaplains will ask the boys and girls in Year 10 and any Sixth Form entrants if they would like to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Any older students who have not yet been confirmed but who would like to are also encouraged to enrol on the course of catechesis which runs from late October until Confirmation and which includes a half day of retreat in January. Catechesis is given by carefully selected sixth formers with the support of House Chaplains and the Central Chaplaincy team.

Reconciliation Services

Students are offered the chance to make their confession in the Abbey Church. Once a term every house year group attends a reconciliation service where they can see a priest either for individual confession or for a prayer and blessing. All students regardless of their faith are invited to attend this service.

The Eucharist

Every Sunday the whole school joins the Monastic community in the Abbey Church for Mass. Mass is also celebrated each week in individual houses, usually by the House Chaplain.


There is excellent provision for Anglicans within the Ampleforth community. The Vicar of Ampleforth, Revd Dr Catherine Reid, gives termly Eucharists for Anglican students which take place in the Abbey Crypt.  Students are also able to attend Church of England Sunday worship by permission from their Houseparent.  Confirmation preparation is again led by the Revd Dr Catherine Reid. Students are usually confirmed in the spring at St Hilda’s Church, Ampleforth, by the Bishop of Whitby.


Any students who wish to be baptised, or to consider reception into the Roman Catholic Church, are encouraged to speak to their House Chaplains.

Sixth Form Ministries

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (Eucharistic Minister)

It is a privilege that Bishop Drainey has given consent for the College to nominate a small number of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who are under 18 years old to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion in the Houses. Year 13 Students nominated by their House Chaplains and Housemasters/Mistresses to undertake this role are asked to attend a comprehensive preparation session and are commissioned early in the academic year.


A Year 13 student is nominated 13 from each House to take responsibility for catechising the students in preparation for Confirmation. They are supported by the Central Chaplaincy and have fortnightly working lunches with a member of the team who guides them through the course and addresses any concerns or worries.

Lectio Divina Leaders

Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading can take two main forms: a personal practice which can be a daily discipline and encounter with Christ in the Scriptures and other sacred writings, or it can be a communal group practice of listening, first to a passage of Scripture, secondly to the prompting of the Spirit in one’s own heart and finally to the responses of the other members of the group. Many students value the opportunity to practice Lectio Divina in groups and through House Deanery groups, older students lead younger students in Lectio.

The College’s commitment to ‘Ora et Labora’ is evident in the way in which prayer punctuates the day and through the acts of service witnessed in the lives of students

Catholic Schools inspectorate 

A Compass for Life

Full Boarding & Day School for students aged 11 to 18