Part of our diocesan strategy is to ensure that the mission of our Diocese continues long into the future, and that the many ways in which the Church impacts on our local community and on so many individual lives continues to grow. To do this we need to find, train and prepare men who will become the priests of the future; future pastors, shepherds and leaders.
In his privileged role as Vocations Director, Canon Gerard has noted that “formation is different for every man, every year, and, in fact, every day.”
In his role, he is keenly aware that for each man, “the Holy Spirit works with him as the principal agent of his formation and that “the seminary and the Diocese have a great responsibility in supporting that work.” It can often take a number of months or even years before a young man is ready to apply for seminary formation for the Diocese. Once accepted, via the selection process, each young man joins a seminary community that suits the personality, temperament and aptitude of the candidate.
The Diocese currently has seminarians training in five seminaries – Oscott College in Sutton Coldfield; Allen Hall, Chelsea; Wonersh, Surrey; Venerable English College, Rome and at the Beda College, in Rome. Students who need some time to transition and prepare for seminary life also spend a year in pre-seminary at Valladolid in Spain or at a house of formation in Shrewsbury.
In this house of formation, seminarians deepen their awareness of the meaning and challenges of priesthood through their theological studies, through prayerful reflection on the revealed Word of God and the Tradition of the Church and its meaning for the modern world, as well as through a variety of pastoral service opportunities and human development. Usually, the seminary journey lasts for up to seven years before a man is ordained as a priest.