History

Early beginnings

The Wijngaards Institute was established by Dr John Wijngaards in 1983 as Housetop Centre for Adult Faith Formation ('Housetop'). Initially, we focused on producing resources for spirituality in the modern age.

Pope John-Paul II's 'Ordinatio sacerdotalis' in 1994 had ruled out the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, forcing the question of women's equality within the Roman Catholic Church to the front. We decided the Wijngaards Institute would focus its research on the ordination of women and publish a website to present the academic evidence for and against. The website 'Women Can Be Priests' would grow to be the largest internet resource on women and holy orders, with extensive documentation in 25 languages.

Our first office in Homer Street, London, green door opposite the lamppost

1987

The Seven Circles of Prayer

Based on nationwide research in the UK we produced our video course 'The Seven Circles of Prayer'. Focused on practice of meditation, the course went to win the award for Creative Excellence at the 1987 Video Festival in Elmhurst, Illinois, USA.

1988

Peace in your Home

Following the previous years success we created the video series 'Peace in your Home' which examined how to foster prayer in the family. One year later we produced our next series, 'Loaves of Thanksgiving' centred upon re-vitalising the celebration of the weekly Eucharist.

1990

'Walking on Water' goes international

Our 'Walking on Water' resource for community leaders is launched. Comprised of 3 textbooks and nine accompanying videos filmed across Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya and the UK, this resource has since been translated into 14 languages.

1995

Making Sense of God

We publish our 'Making Sense of God' resource which was lauded within the Catholic media, with the Catholic Press Association (USA) awarding a prize for 'best adult reading'. The The accompanying film 'Journey to the Centre of Love' won the Grand Prix at the Catholic International Film Festival in Warsaw and the top accolade at the International Film Fair of Columbus, Ohio the following year.

2000

For Better, For Worse

Working in conjunction with the International Academy for Marital Spirituality (INTAMS) we produced a video course focused on Christian marriage. 'For Better, For Worse' was broadcast on Belgian Catholic television network KTRC under the title 'Tussen Man & Vrouw' ('Between Husband & Wife'). It is being distributed in the UK and Ireland by Veritas Publications.

Catherine of Siena Virtual College

Housetop founded the Catherine of Siena Virtual College ('CSVC'), which offered affordable university-level online courses on leadership and the role of women in society.

Dr Aaron Milavec, our Vice-Principal of Siena College, discussing the take-over with officials of Roehampton University.

2007

Founding the Catherine of Siena Virtual College

More than 1,100 students enrol, the vast majority of students are women, and are many from developing countries. Such a rapid growth and success demanded a large-scale infra-structure to operate the project to it's full potential. For this reason, in September 2014 Housetop, which by then had been renamed the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, transferred ownership of CSVC to the University of Roehampton, which has renamed it the 'Catherine of Siena College'.

Focus on Church reform

Dr John Wijngaards, near window, asking the Katholische Jungschar in Vienna to support one of our projects

2012

A call for democratisation

The 'Catholic Scholars' Declaration on Authority in the Church' is published. Signed by 216 academics from 139 universities around the world it calls for democratization of church structures in line with Vatican Council II. The declaration is officially launched the next year in the British Houses of Parliament.

2013

Appeal to Pope Francis

The 'Documented Appeal to Pope Francis to Request the Reinstatement of the Ordained Diaconate for Women', is sent to the Vatican.

2014

Synods of Bishops

The 'Catholic Scholars Statement on Marriage and the Family', is submitted in preparation for the Synods of Bishops of 2014 and 2015

2016

Statement on the Ethics of Using Contraceptives launched at the UN

The 'Catholic Scholars' Statement on the Ethics of Using Contraceptives' based on an interdisciplinary study by 23 international academics in launched at the United Nations in New York. The Statement, co-signed by more than 150 Catholic scholars, recommended that 'the Catholic 'magisterium' seek the opinion of Christian theologians and experts in other relevant disciplines with regard to the ethics of using modern non-abortifacient contraceptives for the purposes of family planning, with a view to repealing the prohibition to use so-called 'artificial' contraceptives upheld by Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.