Locus iste a Deo factus est.
I never planned to join the CSU, let alone take on the role as President one day. I actually sort of ‘fell’ into it when I joined the chorus of the 2000 production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ as a First Year Modern Languages student. It turned out to be quite a serendipitous moment in hindsight. The following September, I joined the committee and enthusiastically co-organised the Freshers’ week programme and the rest of the term’s events.
The highlights of the CSU year for me were the weekly Fellowship Meals on a Wednesday evening (cooking for 50 people on a regular basis quickly became second nature) and the big termly parties such as St. Andrew’s Night, Burns’ Evening and the May Ball (always so much fun, frivolity and laughter). I cannot help but remember with great fondness volunteering at the Homeless Project at St. Catherine’s Convent, the termly weekend retreats to Dalmally, Nunraw, Pluscarden (great for developing faith but equally important in developing knowledge of Scottish geography and of single malt whiskies) and of course the weekly student mass on a Sunday. I so loved the intimacy of the chapel setting and feeling in some way part of the Dominican community who live at St. Albert’s.
Music played such an important role for me too - I loved singing in the Chapel Choir. Rehearsals were never a chore and I learned so much about singing too from my contemporaries. As St. Augustine said, “he who sings, prays twice”. This is why, perhaps, the annual musical productions (Godspell, Oklahoma! and more…) were so important for so many members. But apart from all these events, rituals and socials, the greatest legacy and therefore the most durable memory for me about my six years in the CSU remains the friends around me that played the role of the family that we created through our shared beliefs, our shared values, our different opinions and our shared care and love of one other. We were all finding ourselves and our way in the world at a highly formative and critical stage of our lives. We had our friends on our courses and our mates from our Societies, but for many of us, our lives revolved around the close knit community of Number 23 George Square.
In those days we celebrated the sacraments of the Eucharist and sometimes baptisms and confirmations. Later we celebrated the sacrament of marriage and the baptism of each other’s children as godparents. Maybe one day we will celebrate someone’s holy orders (that would make Fr. Simon’s day!). The point I’m making is that the CSU brought us together and for many of us - for me, certainly - it is the CSU that we have to thank for some of the closest friendships in our lives. And friendships founded in faith are the longest lasting. I feel very thankful to the CSU and the chaplains who made such a lasting impact on my life and the lives of so many others.
Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est.
Andy Loughe was a student from 1999-2005 and a former Term 1 CSU President (’03-’04). He teaches German & French at a boarding school in Oxfordshire.