News from the JCR/MCR – Maria Overy, Interview

5th March 2018

Maria Overy, studying for a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, shares her thoughts and experiences about Blackfriars Hall and Oxford.

1. Tell us about your background and what you did before coming to Blackfriars.

I was born in London and brought up in Kent, near Canterbury. I’ve always loved reading great works of literature, playing music and undertaking artistic projects. I decided I wanted to educate myself in the Classical tradition but realised I would need to seek out my own way of doing so, since I was unaware of any institution in this country that provided a nourishing liberal arts education. I set about this by enrolling on the Temenos Academy Foundation Diploma in Perennial philosophy, which I completed the year after I left school. During this year I also visited the Accademia Vivarium Novum in Rome, a scholarly community modelled on Cassidorus’ Vivarium, which cultivates true humanitas rooted in the study of Latin and Greek. This visit inspired me to study Classics at university, and I graduated from King’s College London in the summer of 2017, directly before coming to Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

2. Why did you choose Blackfriars for your studies?

Whilst studying Classics I discovered Theology and heard that Blackfriars Hall was one of the few institutions, open to lay people, where faith and study could be cultivated together. I knew it would be a rich and exciting experience to study Theology alongside the Dominican friars.

3. What sort of things does your study programme cover and what particular focus do you have?

The post-graduate diploma in Theology & Religion, offered by the University of Oxford, is aimed at those who haven’t studied Theology before but are considering making the transition. The course requires students to take 3-4 undergraduate papers in core areas of Theology, which involves writing on average 12 essays per term and sitting exams in June (Trinity Term). The papers I have chosen are ‘Doctrine up to 451AD’, ‘History and Theology of the Western Church 1050-1350’, and ‘God, Christ, and Salvation’. I am particularly interested in Patristic and Medieval Theology, delving into the original Latin texts whenever I can.

4. Where do you think you will go next after Blackfriars?

I am looking into teaching Classics in secondary schools and do not intend to stray too far from the academy! I would like to return to further study in Patristics & Medieval theology, perhaps to teach at tertiary level and produce scholarly editions of untranslated texts. I am also curious to find a way to make the riches of these writings accessible to non-scholars.

5. Blackfriars is not a typical Oxford institution—what do you think are its positives? Is there anything that has surprised you about studying here?

The community, fellowship, and atmosphere of reverent study at Blackfriars is inspiring and unique. The Hall is small but that means everyone is friends with everyone else, which is, I think, how a true college ought to be. The Dominicans are always happy to offer advice, share wisdom and crack a few jokes (of varying quality). Nothing really surprised me – it is everything I felt it would be!

6. Leaving aside your studies, what’s your favourite thing about Oxford?

Being in a city which is, and always has been, directed towards learning, is a wonderful experience. There are always so many events one can attend, so many wonderful people from all over the world passing through, and a thriving community, particularly along St. Giles between the Catholic Chaplaincy, the Dominican Priory and the Oxford Oratory (St. Aloysius Church).

Appeal for help

Most students today experience money worries. 

Blackfriars would like to do more to help students facing hardship. Could you make a small contribution?


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