School of the Announciation - Centre for the New Evanghelism School of the Announciation - Angel Statue
at Buckfast Abbey - Devon



12th March 2019

BA-Level Residential and Spring Conference at SotA

Last week, the BA-level students (years 3, 4, and 5) attended their spring residential study period at the School of the Annunciation (SotA). They were joined by Spring Conference students. Topics included philosophy, theology, science & religion, grace, Christology, and Catholic life ethics. It was a beautiful time of study, prayer, and fellowship.You can see additional photos here




13th February 2019 

Dr Andrew Beards’ Recent Article Published in the Gregorianum  

Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director at the School of the Annunciation (SotA), has written an article, which has been published in two parts in consecutive editions of Gregorianum – the Journal of the PontificalGregorian University in Rome, Italy.  The article focuses on the recent book Epistemic Friction: An Essay on Knowledge, Truth and Logic by the influential American analytical philosopher Gila Sher, professor of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. Sher, expert in the thought of Tarski and Quine, is also a noted contributor to technical debates in current symbolic logic. However, her work and the book in question witness to very wide philosophical preoccupations. Sher therefore wishes to situate current research in logic within the broader perspectives of philosophy of mind and epistemology.   

A good number of Sher’s philosophical preoccupations, which are far-reaching in scope, are shared in Bernard Lonergan’s philosophical writing. The article then opens up a dialogue and debate between the two philosophies. Among the aims of the article is the intention of making evident how fruitful such a dialogue may prove in light of new perspectives in analytical philosophy. But it also raises questions concerning certain empiricist models which, even when not acknowledged, may in effect manifest an undertow in the unfolding of problematic philosophical arguments such as we see in analysts like Sher.

To see the article in the context of other articles published in the same issue, see


29th January 2019

22 Students Receive Awards in Southwark

On Saturday, 22 students from the archdiocese of Southwark received awards for having completed the Foundations of the Faith for the New Evangelisation (FFNE) course.

The presentation of certificates took place at the Catholic Centre for Formation, Tooting Bec, where Archbishop Peter Smith gave the students their awards. Fr Guy de Gaynesford, the Rector of the School of the Annunciation, and Mrs. Carol Ann Harnett, the Course Leader for FFNE, offered a study day and were also in attendance at the presentation of certificates. It was a well-deserved day of celebration for the students who have worked for two years to receive the Diocesan Catechetical Certificate.

19th December 2018

Dr Andrew Beards Lecturing on ‘Truth, Goodness, Beauty and the New Evangelisation’ 

Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director of the School of the Annunciation (SotA) recently  gave talks and led three sessions discussing the themes ‘Truth, Goodness, Beauty and the New Evangelisation’ at the annual conference attended by diocesan teams for adult formation/evangelisation held at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire. Representatives from a number of Archdioceses and Dioceses of England and Wales were present, as were representatives from departments of the Bishops Conference.

There was a lively and very interesting discussion of how these profoundly interrelated ‘transcendentals’ – as they are termed in Scholastic thought – are key areas for preaching the Faith and Apologetics today. A key text, to begin the conversation, was found in the great encyclical of Pope St John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, where we read: “Wherever men and women discover a call to the absolute and transcendent, the metaphysical dimension of reality opens up before them: in truth, in beauty, in moral values, in other persons, in being itself, in God.” (FR 83)


 29th November 

Registration now Open for 2019 Spring Conferences

We are pleased to announce that the School of the Annunciation (SotA) is offering Spring Conferences this coming year (2019) in Philosophy and Theology.

The Conferences will be offered 28 Feb – 3 March and 7 – 10 March. 

Spring Theological Conferences:

Conference 1: Christ, Grace, and Catholic Life Ethics (28 Feb – 3 March)

Conference 2: Baptismal Grace, the Catholic Moral Life, and the Teaching of St Thomas Aquinas (7 -10 March)

Spring Philosophy Conference:

Philosophy, Science, and Religion (28 Feb – 3 March and 7 – 10 March) 

More information is available on the SotA website.



26th November

Dr Denise Clare Oliver Lectures on the transition from Meditation to Infused Contemplation

Dr Denise Clare Oliver, Director of Theology of the School of the Annunciation (SotA) recently gave lectures at the Monastery of Our Lady and St Bernard, Brownshill, Stroud. Dr Oliver was invited by Fr Thomas Dubois of the Clifton Diocese to lecture on a Spiritual Direction Course which is held at the Monastery each month.  The lectures focused on the transition period from mediation to infused contemplation, various difficulties which can arise at this stage of the spiritual journey, and how a spiritual director can advise his or her directee in this period. It was a fruitful time of study, prayer, and fellowship for all present.



An Evening of Celebration at the School of the Annunciation 

“All the staff of the School of the Annunciation are particularly proud of these, our students, as they complete the extended courses we offer.

As we congratulate each one, we join them in thanking Almighty God for His generosity and mercy. May our Blessed Mother continue to lead them to her Beloved Son.”

-- Rev. Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation

The School of the Annunciation (SotA) graduation ceremony was held in the new building this year. It was an evening celebration, which began with Vespers in the Abbey Church. The group had supper at Northgate House, and then attended the Presentation of Certificates in SotA’s new building. Certificates were awarded to students who completed the Diploma in the New Evangelisation, one of the Ecclesiastical Latin courses, the Foundations course, and/or the one year course in Catholic Theology.  It was a lovely evening! – You can see photos of the event in the photo gallery here:   


16th November 2018

The UK’s favourite scientist Professor Brian Cox and SotA’s Dr Andrew Beards in Science and Religion Conference

The Academic Director of the School of the Annunciation, Dr Andrew Beards was one of eight speakers, along with Professor Brian Cox and priest-physicist Rev. Dr Andrew Pinsent, at a recent conference exploring the relationship between faith and the scientific worldview. “Science or Religion? A Symposium” took place on 3 November 2018 in Winchester. Other participant speakers were Fr Bernard Barrett, Professor Maria Burke, Dr Vincenzo Tamma, Dr Rebecca Page-Tickell and Dr John Ochai.

In his presentation, Dr Beards looked at philosophical questions to do with consciousness and the soul in the light of modern science.

The initiative is one of the exciting projects for the new evangelisation to emerge from Portsmouth Diocese under the leadership of Bishop Philip Egan.

Some talks were recorded—click here for more details:



7th November 2018

Nelson FFNE Students Receive Awards

The Foundations of the Faith for the New Evangelisation (FFNE) students in Nelson received their awards on Sunday. Fr Brian Murphy (Parish Priest), Anne Bardell (Parish Pastoral Assistant), and Carol Harnett (SotA Course Leader) attended the celebration.  It was a lovely day!



20th September 2018

Dr Denise Oliver Lecturing for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation 

Dr Denise Clare Oliver, Director of Theology for the School of the Annunciation, is traveling to Rome this week to lecture for the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evanglisation. Dr Oliver will be lecturing and then leading a discussion on The Proclamation of Eternal Life: How to Live Hope.  The Pontifical Council has invited Dr Oliver to present the lecture and lead the subsequent discussion as part of the Conference entitled The Catechist: Witness to the Christian Mystery.  We pray that it will be a fruitful time of study and prayer for all involved in the conference.




20th September 2018

Two New Master’s Level Programmes at the School of the Annunciation

We are pleased to announce that in October 2018, the School of the Annunciation (SotA) is launching two Master’s Level Programmes – one in Theological Studies (in which students can choose to focus on Catholic Spiritual Theology or Apologetics, Discipleship, and Evangelisation) and one in Philosophy and Catholic Thought. Both programmes are online, with two onsite residential study periods a year at Buckfast Abbey. 

These Master’s level programmes are designed to equip students to participate in the New Evangelisation and to be mission ready to work in the parish, the diocese, and the wider world.  The programmes can be completed in two years (part-time).  Here’s a brief description of the two programmes:  

1- Theology -- the first year has core modules that cover the dogmas of the Catholic Faith (and Scriptural Foundations) and the Catholic Moral Life (as a consequence of receiving Baptism and sanctifying grace). The second year has two areas of focus to choose from -- either Catholic Spiritual Theology or Apologetics, Discipleship, and Evangelisation

More information is available here: 

2- Philosophy -- this course is called Philosophy and Catholic Thought ... it covers metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, analytical philosophy, continental philosophy, science and philosophy, and political philosophy - students can choose modules from various options.

More information available here:

There is still time for students to apply.

The first onsite residential study period will take place 4-7 Oct, 2018.




15th September 2018

Dr Timothy Walker Presents on “Critical Pedagogy and the Pedagogy of God”

Dr Timothy Walker, Director of Philosophy at the School of the Annunciation, presented his paper, “Critical Pedagogy and the Pedagogy of God” at Newman University in Birmingham on Thursday. Dr Walker’s presentation was part of a conference organised by the Network for Researchers in Catholic Education. The conference was entitled “How can the self-understanding, priorities and work of Catholic educators be enhanced by a critical retrieval of the developing theological heritage?” The aim of the network is to bring together people who are doing research in Catholic Education in the UK and from further afield. The conference was well-attended, and we are looking forward to the publication of Dr Walker’s paper.




14th September 2018

FFNE Study Day for Newmarket Students 

This past weekend, the Year 2 Students of Foundations of the Faith for the New Evangelisation (FFNE) at Newmarket Centre met for a study day. It was a joyful day of study, prayer, and fellowship. All are looking forward to the next study day!




18th July 2018

First Spiritual Theology Conference of Summer 2018

The School of the Annunciation recently held its first Spiritual Theology Conference of the summer. Dr Denise Clare Oliver directed the conference, which focused on the life of prayer and the journey toward union with God.  Abbot David Charlesworth lectured on Benedictine Life and Spirituality, and answered questions about vocation and discernment. It was a privilege to have Abbot David lecturing for our students as  Buckfast Abbey is celebrating its Millennial Year.  Fr Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation, focused his lecture on St Augustine of Hippo. Dr Christina Pal lectured on the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism and the first three mansions of St Tereasa of Avila’s Interior Castle. And Dr Oliver lectured on the mystical life, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, infused contemplation, the higher mansions of St Teresa’s Interior Castle, and Catholic spiritual direction.  It was a fruitful time of study, prayer, and fellowship. You can see more photos of the conference on the School of the Annunciation photo gallery here



16th July 2018

Dr Denise Clare Oliver’s Lectures on Spiritual Direction 

Recently, Dr Denise Clare Oliver delivered the final series of lectures for this year’s on-going clergy formation programme for the Diocese of Plymouth.  The theme of the day was Catholic Spiritual Direction, and the lectures focused on many of the practical aspects of providing spiritual direction.  It was well attended, and a fruitful time of discussion and collaboration.



12th July 2018

FFNE Retreat in Southwark

This past weekend, Fr Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation, directed a retreat for the year 2 students in the foundations of the Faith for the New Evangelisation (FFNE) course in Southwark.  Despite the heat and the World Cup, over twenty people attended!



20th June 2018

Dr Christina Pal Lecturing on Apologetics in New York

This week, Dr Christina Pal is offering a week-long intensive course in Catholic Apologetics for the Emmanuel School of Mission in the Bronx, New York.  We pray that it is a fruitful time of study, prayer, and fellowship for all who are participating



18th May 2018

Residential Weekend for BA Students Years 3 and 4 

This weekend, the third and fourth year BA students had their spring residential.  Topics included Metaphysics, Epistemology, Science & Nature, God & Culture, Creation, Redemption, Ecclesiology, and more. It was an extended weekend of lectures and discussions, as well as fellowship and prayer.

You can see more photos in the SotA photo gallery.


8th May 2018

Dr Denise Clare Oliver Lecturing for the On-going Clergy Formation Day

This week, Dr Denise Clare Oliver gave a series of lectures for the on-going clergy formation day for the Diocese of Plymouth.  Dr Oliver’s lectures focused on St John of Avila, Doctor of the Church, highlighting some of the main points from her book, Discerning Your Spiritual Journey with Saint John of Avila, Doctor of the Church, which was published in 2013. The topics included the Life of St John of Avila, his holiness, his example of diocesan priesthood, his theology, and the mystical life. It was a day of lively and fruitful discussion.



3-6th May 2018

SotA Diploma Residential Weekend

This weekend, the year 1 and year 2 Diploma students attended their spring residential.  The Year 1 group focused on philosophy and contemporary culture, while the Year 2 group focused on sacred beauty and the media. For most of the students, it was their first experience of the new building, lecture hall, and library. It is a great blessing to be located here on the grounds of Buckfast Abbey!  We are grateful to the monks for their presence, prayers, friendship, and hospitality.

 Diploma Residential Students

Dr Andrew Beards with Diploma Students

Diploma Students Weekend 2



26-29th April 2018

SotA Ecclesiastical Latin Residential

Students from both the beginning level Latin course and the intermediate level Latin course recently attended the spring residential. Mr Brian Roxburgh, the Course Leader for both courses, led this first set of residentials to be offered in our new building.  The students worked on Latin grammar and reading in the classroom, and prayed the Office and the Mass in Latin in the Chapel.




10th April 2018

First Series of Lectures in the School’s New Lecture Hall

The School of the Annunciation recently moved to a new building. Located just across from Southgate, we are still on the grounds of Buckfast Abbey, and we are very blessed to be in the new larger building.  The priests of the Diocese of Plymouth were the first group to experience lectures in the main lecture hall of our new building.  The inaugural lectures were given on 10th April by Dr Denise Oliver for the on-going clergy formation day, which focused on various aspects of lectio divina, meditation, and contemplation.  This was the first in a series of on-going clergy formation days organised by Rev. Mark Skelton in conjunction with Dr Oliver and the School of the Annunciation.


10th April 2018

Dr Denise Clare Oliver Lecturing for the Priests of the Diocese of Plymouth

This Tuesday, 10th April, Dr Denise Clare Oliver will be lecturing for the on-going priestly formation day for the priests of the diocese of Plymouth. This is the first in a series of on-going formation days which Dr Oliver will be offering for the priests of Plymouth. The formation day will take place here at the School of the Annunciation.  Dr Oliver’s lectures will focus on Lectio Divina, Meditation, and Contemplation.  We pray that it will be a fruitful experience for all who attend.

 Dr Denise Clare Oliver



9th April 2018

Solemnity of the Annunciation

God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  (Jn 3:16)

The angel [Gabriel] said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”  (Lk 1:30-31)

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.  (Jn 1:14)


On Monday, 9th April, the School of the Annunciation celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Our celebration began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Rector of the School, Fr Guy de Gaynesford was the principal celebrant. Fr Guy’s homily focused on the ineffable gift of God’s condescension in the Incarnation and the personal love Jesus has for each and everyone of us. We prayed in thanksgiving for Our Lady’s fiat and we invoked her intercession to help us to be better followers and disciples of the Saviour. 

The Mass was celebrated in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Buckfast Abbey.  Mr Philip Arkwright, Organist and Master of the Music at Buckfast Abbey, provided the beautiful sacred music and led us in Gregorian chant.  

During this millennial year, we are thanking God very especially for the prayers, the presence, the friendship, and the generosity of Abbot David and the monks of Buckfast Abbey. It is truly a grace to be here!

Following the Mass, we shared a lovely meal at the Conference centre with trustees, faculty, staff, and honoured guests.  After lunch, all our guests were invited to a tour of the School’s new building and facilities. 

It was a glorious celebration and a beautiful opportunity to thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us, and to thank all our friends and benefactors! It was also a time of prayer, as we prayed very especially for the work of the School and for our students.  

Newer faculty members had an opportunity to meet long-time friends and supporters of the School.  We shared the stories of God’s mercy in our lives, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal care for us, and we encouraged one another in the work of the New Evangelisation.  It was a time of great fellowship, and as we parted ways, we assured one another of our prayers.




5th April 2018

Rev Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation, and Mrs Carol Harnett will be Lecturing in East Anglia on Saturday

Rev Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation, will be lecturing this Saturday for the Foundations of the Faith course in East Anglia. Fr Guy will be lecturing on Scripture, Liturgy, and the Sacraments. And Mrs Carol Harnett will be offering a workshop on how to use the Catechism. We wish the students every grace as they continue their studies in this programme!

Fr Guy Lecturing Mrs Carol Harnett Lecturing  
Rev Guy de Gaynesford, Rector Mrs Carol Harnett




19th March 2018

Dr Denise Clare Oliver Lecturing on the Holy Eucharist and on Lectio Divina

On Saturday 17th March, Dr Denise Clare Oliver was in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, giving lectures on the Holy Eucharist and on Lectio Divina.  Dr Oliver’s lectures focused especially on the effects of the Holy Eucharist, and on the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina, through which we listen to the Word of God more intently, we meditate on the Word more deeply, and we contemplate the Divine Mysteries.  Despite the snow and inclement weather, over 60 people attended the lectures, which were given at St John Vianney Catholic Church.



25th February 2018

Dr Oliver and Dr Pal will be Lecturing in Rome this Week

This week, Dr Denise Clare Oliver and Dr Christina Pal will be lecturing for the Institute for Continuing Theological Education (ICTE) for priests at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  Dr Oliver is the Director of Theology for the School of the Annunciation – she will be lecturing on The Mystical Life and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Dr Pal is the Senior Academic Tutor for the School – she will be lecturing on Apologetics for the New Evangelisation.  Everyone at the School is praying for Dr Oliver and Dr Pal, and especially for all of the priests.


 Dr Denise Oliver  Dr Christina Pal




20th February 2018

Dr Oliver and Dr Pal will be Attending the Fides et Ratio Conference in Rome

This week, Dr Denise Clare Oliver and Dr Christina Pal will be attending the  Fides et Ratio Conference at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy.  Lecturers at this international day of study commemorating the 20th anniversary of St John Paul II’s encyclical letter on Faith and Reason will include Cardinal Muller, Bishop Charles Morerod, Fr Serge-Thomas Bonino, OP, Fr Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP, the Papal Theologian Fr W. Giertych, OP, and many others.  Dr Oliver and Dr Pal are very grateful to have this opportunity for on-going intellectual formation --  they are looking forward to discussing with their former professors this important topic in the context of the new evangelisation and the work of the School.

 Dr Denise Oliver  Dr Christina Pal


20th February 2018

Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director of the School of the Annunciation, and the Friends of the Venerabile 

Earlier this month, at a meeting of the Buckfast group for the Friends of the Venerable English College (the seminary in Rome), Dr Andrew Beards – Academic Director of the School of the Annunciation – delivered a lecture entitled The VEC, the Greg, My Time in Rome, and Philosophy.  Dr Beards, who was a student at the College from 1977 to 1979, shared reminiscences with the group and also something on his interests in philosophy and how these interconnected with this time in Rome and after he left seminary, as a layman, to pursue studies elsewhere. 

Among the group were Mgr. Adrian Toffolo and Mgr. George Hay, both past Rectors of the College and priests of the Plymouth Diocese. Mgr. Hay was in fact Rector at the time of Dr Beards’ period at the College, succeeding Mgr. Cormac Murphy-O’ Connor in the Autumn of 1977, when the latter was appointed Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. The two past Rectors also shared some pleasant reminiscences of College life in the 1960s and 70s and of studies at the Gregorian university.



Latest News