Female academic from Birmingham honoured by Pope Francis for her work in helping to train priests for the 21st century

Professor Judith Champ, Church History Lecturer and Academic Tutor at Oscott College (the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham serving the Catholic Church in England, Wales and Scotland) has become a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester. The award exists to recognise lay Catholic men and women whose professional work is of great service to the Church, to the wider community and to the country.

The Investiture of Judith Champ as a Dame of Sylvester was carried out during a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley.

In his homily, the Archbishop said that Judith had “dedicated her life as a scholar and academic to the pursuit of truth and understanding, ready to subject her work to the scrutiny and criticism of her peers, ready to deepen her understanding and widen the scope of her knowledge.”

This academic approach, he continued was “what she has sought to share with successive generations of seminarians that she has taught at Oscott and in other seminaries.”

The Archbishop also thanked Judith for her “considerable contribution to ecumenical co-operation and dialogue” in the Dioceses of Portsmouth and Birmingham and for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Becoming a Papal Dame is an honour “given for a purpose”, the Archbishop emphasised.  “It is not only a recognition of commitment to Christ and to his Church’s mission – it should also be an encouragement to Judith to find new ways of deepening the understanding of those she teaches and of extending the scope of their knowledge.”

On the Oscott College Facebook page, staff and students (past and present) shared their congratulations: “Our thanks to Judith for her tireless service in forming priests for the 21st century!”

Deacons also gave a warm thanks to Judith for her support in their formation: “Congratulations Dame Judith and a huge thanks for all your support and encouragement during my formation for the Permanent Diaconate. May God Bless you today and always.”

Full homily

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