St Wilfrid’s and St Joseph’s are cared for by the Fathers of the York Oratory of St Philip Neri.
The Oratory is a community of priests and brothers who live together bound by no formal vows but only a bond of charity. There is a simple rule of life and each community has its own particular statutes which describe the customs of each individual house. The members of the Oratory are known as Oratorians.
The Oratory was founded in Rome in 1575 by St Philip Neri and today includes some eighty Oratories with about 800 members around the world. There are five Oratories in England and there are communities in formation in Bournemouth and Cardiff.
The spiritual heart of the Oratorian vocation as handed on by St Philip and his first followers is prayer (both personal and public); familiar preaching; and the administration of the sacraments. In York we do that in the context of parish ministry, chaplaincy work, Oratory groups and individual spiritual direction. The Oratory has traditionally had a particular concern to bring the best of music and art to enhance prayer and worship.
An Oratorian priest or brother joins one particular community with the intention of remaining in it for the whole of his life. If after a probationary period of three years a man is accepted as a member of the Oratory he cannot be moved from the community he has joined - although he may go to another community in order to study or be asked to move should another house be in need of support.
Attraction to the person of St Philip Neri is the indispensible foundation of the Oratorian vocation with a desire to work for the good of souls in his spirit of prayer, joy, and fraternal charity. A man drawn to the Oratory will also appreciate the value of community life for ministry, apostolic work and sanctification. He will find in the Oratory more opportunities for prayer, reading and study than is usual for clergy engaged in pastoral work. The Oratorian needs to be happy to stay in one place, to love to be unknown - in St Philip’s own phrase – and to exercise his ministry in a restricted sphere without limelight.