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Easter Message

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Pastoral Year in a Pandemic

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Some New Faces

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The Year in Brief

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A New Virtual Reality

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Redemptoris Mater in Lockdown

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Ordinations and Formation Milestones

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Ten Years of Priestly Formation in the Ordinariate

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EASTER  MESSAGE Canon Roger Taylor, Rector Going back to March of last year this has been for us, as for everyone, a difficult time. We had a number of cases of the virus both here and at Redemptoris Mater, and have had several periods of quarantine on top of the national lockdown. Everyone recovered, I am pleased to say, and we were able to continue with all of our normal teaching and other functions online, and we even successfully held our exams, including most of the oral exams. Sadly, all pastoral work, which for many is the highlight of the week, was suspended, but many of the men were very helpful in setting up an online presence for parishes, and I know also from conversations with parish priests that many of them were simply grateful for the support of the seminarians at a challenging and isolating time for everyone. Here in-House, when we had to send all of our support staff home, we all variously became expert chefs, cleaners, laundrymen, plumbers, and painters and decorators. I am delighted also to say that, since February, we at last have been able to pray and celebrate Mass all together in the Chapel; but as I write, shedding our masks, celebrating a meal together, and coming together with our brothers from Redemptoris Mater is tantalisingly still somewhere on the horizon. In many ways we have been blessed, and have mostly been spared the worst of things, but there are those who have lost relatives and friends during this time. It has been a time of wilderness, but the wilderness is always a place of possibility, and we have held close to those words of Peter in John’s Gospel – To whom else shall we go? You have the message of eternal life. This is the message of Easter, and so we look forward in confidence and trust.

PASTORAL  YEAR  IN  A  PANDEMIC Francis Thomas, Diocese of Westminster For my extended pastoral placement beginning in September 2019, I was sent to the Most Sacred Heart Church, Ruislip in West London (pictured overleaf). At that time there was a vibrant parish, with many young families, staff, two priests and many volunteers. I was soon involved in serving Mass, assisting with catechetical programmes, visiting nursing homes, bringing Holy Communion to the housebound and, on Fridays, visiting the deanery secondary school, Douay Martyrs.

In the days that followed, our lives in the presbytery felt rather listless and purposeless, as if the very essence of our existence had been taken away. Our most direct and regular means of contact with the People of God had ceased, and the Eucharist was now shut away from the people who needed it most. It took several weeks to come around to the realisation that not only was there plenty of work to be done, but that there were an enormous number of opportunities for pastoral contact. Although, their form came with new means and methods. It was from then on, that telephone ministry became a central part of afternoons and evenings, while delivering the weekly parish newsletter and Catholic papers to the self-isolating, became essential lifelines of contact. Over time our confidence grew and the most courageous of us ventured into the world of video conference calls,

As experienced by the whole world, the news of the COVID-19 virus started to dominate our lives and, in March, brought a closure to all churches. This was a profoundly shocking moment. For the priests and I, saying ‘goodbye’ to parishioners as they left after the final public Mass, was incredibly heart-breaking, because we didn’t know when we would reopen or what the next months would hold. 1


applications previously unknown and now inescapable, for example: Zoom and Teams. It was on these platforms that our faith sharing groups, Lectio Divina, Youth Alpha, Catechesis, Children’s Liturgy and Stations of the Resurrection flourished. I was incredibly blessed to be part of a dynamic, caring, and hard-working pastoral team, that did its very best to engage, comfort and inspire all the parishioners we could contact. It was far from an ordinary year in a parish and yet, knowing that I was able to cope in a challenging, stressful, and everchanging situation gives me some confidence in the face of whatever challenges lie ahead.

SOME  NEW  FACES David Cherry Diocese of Westminster I started formation in Allen Hall last September, two years after being received into the Catholic Church. I came from South Africa in 1988, trained at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield for Anglican ministry in the Diocese of London and served first in White City. Through involvement in Ignatian Spirituality & discernment, and with the patience and love of friends, I found the courage to take this great leap of faith. So after over 25 years in ministry, five parishes and two universities later I find myself in seminary formation for the Catholic priesthood. The joys and relationships within community life involve discovering what we are like and that we can only trust in the Lord to become more his for his Church. Here we are learning to love a bit better as we orientate ourselves towards God. I think we are all coming to realise that our lives only ring true and are fruitful if lived in response to God. Fiat. Please pray for us and those who guide us by God’s grace.

Br Andre-Marie Cibaka O.S.M. Order of Friar Servants of Mary (Servites) I was born in D.R. Congo, and I did my studies in Psychology and Pedagogy. Apart from teaching as primary school teacher, I worked also for a couple of years as social worker and as interpreter for asylum seekers and refugees. The first time I felt God calling me to religious life was when I was 12 years old, but for some reason it never happened that I joined a religious congregation when I completed my studies. Afterward I tried to ignore this call and do something different, but I felt God was not giving up on me. I remember again the word of my spiritual director who used to tell me: if God is really calling you for this life, he will provide. Exactly through prayer and careful discernment, the Servants of Mary’s door was open for me, and guiding me to Allen Hall where I continue my studies toward priesthood. COVID-19 has limited most of our hobbies. Otherwise I like long walks, swimming and gardening and of course reading. 2


Lorcán Keller Diocese of Westminster I was born and raised in Dublin to a mostly-practising Catholic family. After falling away from the Church for a few years in my teens, I returned to my faith at university and completed an undergraduate degree in Theology and English Literature, with the intention of teaching. It was during my studies in Theology at Maynooth that I heard the Lord’s call again, having given up on the idea of priesthood as a child. In order to buy some time, I undertook a Master’s degree in Liturgy and, after grappling with the idea of monasticism, eventually applied for the Archdiocese of Dublin. I found myself back in Maynooth that summer to begin my formation, but after three unsuccessful years I needed a break. I joined the L’Arche Daybreak community, just outside Toronto, where I stayed for a year. Again, I decided against the priesthood and took a job in Westminster Cathedral, typesetting and working with the Precentor. I had hoped that the nature of the work would satisfy my need for ministry, and although I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, I needed more. In my spare time, I enjoy history, quizzing, heraldry and flags.

Br Joseph Rodrigues C.O. Congregation of the Oratory

Br Augustine Wärnberg C.O. Congregation of the Oratory

I am a member of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in London. Having completed philosophy studies at St Philip’s Seminary in Toronto, Canada, I am currently in my first year of theology at Allen Hall.

I am a member of the London Oratory, and studied philosophy at St Philip's Seminary, Toronto prior to my studies here at Allen Hall.

Andrius Spiridonovas Diocese of Plymouth, Redemptoris Mater I was born and raised in Kaunas, Lithuania, to a Catholic family, and studied Physical Education at university. I wanted to explore the world and pushed God in to the background. After two years into my course, I went to USA where I stayed for over four years, before returning to complete my studies. I love to travel and so decided to continue my studies in tourism. That same year, with the help of my mother, I found the Neocatechumenal Way, and joined the community there. I later went on to earn a master’s degree in business and management administration, but found myself in debt. I came to London in 2012 to find work and got a job working as a bus driver for a special needs school. In 2016 I was then offered a teaching job there. Although my time there was very meaningful, I came to realise that it was not enough. Surprisingly, the lockdown helped me come to terms with God’s will for me, as I had enough time to pray ‘without ceasing.’ After a few months, I offered to dedicate my life to the Church as a priest and, so far, I am very happy living with my brothers in the Redemptoris Mater community.

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Br Zvonimir Tomas S.D.B. Salesians of Don Bosco I grew up in Zagreb, Croatia, where I joined the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Society of St Francis de Sales, over seven years ago. After high school I received my bachelor’s degree in Zagreb, before moving to Rome to study at the Salesian Pontifical University. It was there that I began discerning God’s plan for my life, with the help of a Salesian father. I had planned to get married and have a career in Croatia, but God’s plan was quite different. As I like to say, God gave me an offer I could not refuse! I could find no peace or joy whilst ignoring God, and it was a great blessing to have the support of family and friends. Initially, I had all the enthusiasm that comes with starting out in religious life, but as time went on I believe that I truly fell in love living out my vows, along with my Salesian brothers, in the mission to young people.

Br Gregory-Augustine Tan O.S.A. Order of St Augustine I am a late and unlikely vocation. Being raised agnostic in New Zealand, the Catholic Church was for me an intriguing if somewhat inaccessible entity. After moving to the UK as a young adult in the 1980s, I was baptized in 1997. Life as a lay Catholic left me with a spiritual restlessness, but in 2015 providence offered me the chance to discern with the Augustinians. My formation to date has included a one-year novitiate in London, time in three of the four Augustinian houses in England (Hammersmith and Hoxton in London, and Harborne in Birmingham) and one year as a day-student at St Mary's College, Oscott. In 2020 I did further philosophy courses at Allen Hall and am currently in my first year of theology. I feel very privileged to undergo formation for Augustinian ministry while having the support of other religious and diocesan seminarians/clergy. I don't have many years left to serve the Order and the Church, so am full of admiration for those who from a younger age are devoting themselves to religious/ordained life.

Fr Anthony Doe Resident Spiritual Director I came to Allen Hall in September 2020 as resident Spiritual Director, having spent the last five years as Spiritual Director in the Venerable English College, Rome. I have valued this priestly role immensely as it has enabled me to support and accompany seminarians in their spiritual journeys, helping them to embrace their priestly vocations, but most of all, encouraging them to grow in their personal relationship with Our Lord. My own priestly life has had some interesting variations over the years. I trained for the priesthood at the English College in Rome and I then began my priestly ministry as an assistant in a parish for four years and followed this as a University Chaplain for six years at the West London Chaplaincy. I then, at the request of Cardinal Hume, trained as a psychotherapist for six years and then practised in central London, seeing people for therapy from the diocese and other Catholic organisations. During that time, I was the resident chaplain at the Carmelite Monastery in Notting Hill giving retreats and spiritual input in different communities. I also helped out pastorally at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. After my professional training as a psychotherapist I kept up my studies and completed them with a master’s degree and doctorate in the Psychology of Religion, using the insights of a post Freudian theorist Donald Winnicott and St John of the Cross, reflecting on the psycho-spiritual dimensions of spiritual growth. Throughout my priestly life I have seen people for spiritual direction from a variety of settings and it gives me great pleasure in now being able to offer my experience to the community of seminarians at Allen Hall. I am very grateful to Our Lord for this gift. 4


Matthew Topham Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham I read English at Peterhouse, Cambridge, where I was baptised in the college chapel in a silver-gilt punchbowl! I then spent two years in a parish in Archway, North London, as Pastoral Assistant before being formed for the Anglican priesthood at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. I was ordained deacon for the Anglican Diocese of London in 2017, and priested in 2018, and served in a parish in Tottenham, before being received into the Catholic Church as a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in 2019. My wife Suzanne and I have two young children, Ambrose and Frances.

Mark Wharton Archdiocese of Southwark I’m originally from Newcastle upon Tyne and came to London to study about ten years ago. I am a student for the Archdiocese of Southwark in my final year of formation. I am a convert to the Catholic Faith. The Lord Jesus led me to the Church, first intellectually and then through coming to believe in the reality of the Lord’s real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Becoming a Catholic was like coming home. I was a Dominican before I came to Allen Hall, but I felt the Lord invite me to explore the possibility of life as a secular priest. I undertook a yearlong placement in the Archdiocese which was a real joy. Being at Allen Hall has been a real blessing, and as my time here draws to a close, I am really looking forward to getting stuck into parish ministry, being with the people, and sharing the Gospel with them. My main theological interest is in the relationship between moral theology and psychology, particularly how our understanding of acquired virtue can interact with approaches to psychodynamic therapy. I love cooking, and nineteenth and twentieth century Russian Literature.

THE YEAR IN BRIEF

On 10 October 2020, Pope Francis beatified Carlo Acutis in Assisi. Carlo (picture courtesy of Mazur/cbcew.org.uk) was born in London and baptised locally in Our Lady of Dolours on the Fulham Road. He is patron of youth and computer programmers. Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us.

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Later that month, we were deeply saddened to learn that St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, would close at the end of this academic year after 130 years of priestly formation. We look forward to welcoming our brother seminarians to Allen Hall in September 2021, many of whom are known to the students here from our studies in St Mary’s University, Twickenham as part of the Mater Ecclesiæ programme. Pictured above: The staff and students of St John’s, with the Rt Rev Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, courtesy of Jorge Murcia.

In late October 2020, we were delighted to celebrate Mass with His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols for our patronal feast, the Blessed Martyrs of Douai College.

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During the pre-Christmas lockdown, Lorcán Keller led some of the students in an arts and crafts activity, making cards (above) to send to our brothers in the Venerable English College, who were expecting to spend Christmas in Rome. We also sent cards to our brothers in Wonersh, and to our sisters in Ware Carmel and Burgess Hill.

As the community was preparing to disperse for Christmas, we received news of the first of five positive COVID cases this academic year, leading to many remaining in the seminary to contain the virus. Midnight Mass was celebrated at the appropriate time in the Chapel and a full Christmas lunch was cooked the following morning.

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During the Christmas quarantine, Robert Smialek and Lorcán Keller seized the opportunity to paint the student common room from magnolia to ‘churlish green’, ready in time for Christmas eve. When the community returned from their break, we experienced another four successive cases of COVID. After quarantining, regular testing and a clean bill of health, the community was able to regain some semblance of normality.

In March 2021, it was announced that Fr Stephen Wang was appointed Rector at the Venerable English College, Rome. Fr Stephen is currently the Vocations Director for Westminster Diocese and former Dean of Studies at Allen Hall. He will remain in his post as University Chaplain in Newman House until the end of term. We wish him every blessing in his new ministry.

The Year of St Joseph 8


Those who were able to attend their parishes in a safe way spent Holy Week there, ministering in various ways. Many, however, found themselves in Westminster Cathedral, reading and stewarding. Photographs © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

A  NEW  VIRTUAL  REALITY John Casey, Diocese of Westminster For someone like myself, virtual communication was an alien concept until about a year ago, when the initial national lockdown forced people to find new ways of communicating online, in order to keep safe. ‘Zoom’, ‘privacy’, ‘live-streaming’, ‘captions’, ‘comments’, ‘system requirements’ and ‘nice backdrop’ became everyday expressions. A new language developed for those of us who are less techsavvy than others.

discussions have been reduced to a square box on your laptop screen. Depending on the size of the class, lecture or meeting you attended, the more attendees, the less you could see of yourself and your classmates on screen. For some, this is desirable and, of course, the video screen can also be switched off. Invisibility, for some, has become the new modus operandi, while others mourn the loss of peer support and classroom fraternity. For most, the transition from classroom lectures to online lecturing was straightforward, not so for others like myself. Without the online Zoom facilities our contact with our fellow students who regularly attend Allen Hall would have been completely lost.

The means of education has been quite different this year in Allen Hall, as virtual lectures have replaced my preferred means of learning. Face-to-face contact with the lecturers has been lost, and classroom 9


The rapid reorganisation of lectures was a testament to every staff member both inside and outside of Allen Hall. It was no small feat to organise multiple courses with web links etc, so that classes could take place. Lecturers adapted teaching styles to deliver online lectures and overcame the challenge of lecturing to a screen of faces, instead of enjoying the atmosphere of a live classroom. I am sure that many aspects of the usual banter were lost as a result of this new style of teaching. For some students the drawback of this type of lecture resulted in less discussion and sometimes missed opportunities to be able to question and understand aspects of the lecture.

lectures, has been the ability to connect with those from whom we are separated due to the pandemic. The Westminster students have been able to communicate with Cardinal Vincent, who has met with us regularly to share in our experiences, and we have enjoyed getting to know him better, along with our brothers in Rome and in parish ministry. We have also kept up our weekly spiritual conferences online, and have been able to share this with a wider student audience. I hope that we can resume face-to-face learning as soon as possible, and I look forward to being back in the classrooms which, at my age, is something I never thought I would say. How the world has changed!

One benefit of the Zoom meetings apart from the

REDEMPTORIS MATER IN LOCKDOWN

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ORDINATIONS  &  FORMATION  MILESTONES

A mere days before the first national lockdown in March 2020, William Johnstone received candidacy for Holy Orders in Parsons Green parish.

Br Gildas Parry O.Praem. professed his solemn vows of poverty, obedience, celibacy, and stability on 21 August 2020, the feast of Pope St Pius X, in Chelmsford. He was later ordained to the diaconate by the Most Rev George Stack on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. Both events took place under COVID restrictions. The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré (Norbertines) is celebrating its 900-year anniversary this year (2021).

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On Saturday 19 September 2020, Cardinal Vincent ordained William Johnstone and Tim Mangatal to the diaconate and Alexander Balzanella, David Knight and Axcel Soriano to the priesthood, in Westminster Cathedral. For the first time since July 1999, priests and deacons were ordained together in one celebration, due to the restrictions of the pandemic. Ad multos annos!            Photo © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

On Saturday 24 October, we celebrated Mass with the Right Rev John Sherrington. At the Mass, Bishop John conferred the previously postponed ministries of Lector and Acolyte, and admission to candidacy for Holy Orders, in a joint ceremony.

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Above: In December 2020, Brs Gregory Echegwo S.D.B. and Joseph Tran S.D.B. were ordained to the diaconate in a private ceremony in the Salesian community, Battersea.

Above & left: Rev Royston Price C.Ss.R. was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev John Wilson in St Mary’s Church, Clapham on 4 December 2020, in accordance with the coronavirus restrictions.

On Saturday 30 January, the Right Rev John Sherrington ordained Jakub Joszko and Marco Salvagnini to the diaconate in St Francis de Sales, Tottenham.

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TEN YEARS OF PRIESTLY FORMATION IN THE ORDINARIATE Rev Dr Michael Halsall, Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham On 15 January 2011, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established by a decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the first fruits of the Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus (AC). On 16 January 2021, Monsignor Keith Newton PA presided at a celebration Mass to mark the tenth Anniversary. He was a solitary figure in the sanctuary of our home church at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, as it was held behind closed doors. Nevertheless, he reflected on a decade of life in the Catholic Church for those clergy and laity who have made the journey from various Anglican groups across Great Britain.

formation, years of service, and experience. We presently have two men being formed via the seminary, and two more in the pipeline for September. In addition, we have three men being formed for the permanent diaconate. They come from a variety of backgrounds, and are getting younger than in previous years. I hope this is a trend which continues. There is a clear and stated recognition in Anglicanorum coetibus that there is a continuity between the two states – Anglican and Catholic – helping to lead groups and individuals into the one fold. The opening paragraph reads, ‘many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.’ Given that, there are distinctive liturgical aspects of the Ordinariate which require particular attention, so pastoral placements in one of the groups around the London area are being organised for the men in formation and accompaniment.

This move reflects an ambition of the Second Vatican Council, some two generations ago. The Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio, declared that the Anglican Communion, ‘in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist’, occupies a special place among those ecclesial communities which sprang up during the sixteenth century. Whilst it was envisaged that the Ordinariate identity would involve a varying degree of ‘Anglican Patrimony’, then candidates for Holy Orders in any of the ‘Ordinariates’ should ideally be prepared alongside other seminarians, especially in the areas of doctrinal and pastoral formation (AC 6.5). The first two ‘waves’ of former Anglican clergy were ordained very swiftly, then settled in their groups and/or parishes whilst undertaking a formation programme at Allen Hall, attending on a weekly basis. This was a challenging time for everyone, not least the kitchen staff.

The Personal Ordinariates in Great Britain, the USA, and Australia are still evolving in how they relate to the dioceses, and how they integrate and express themselves within diocesan parishes, chaplaincies, etc. Some bishops have been more generous and supportive than others; some groups have folded, whilst others have sprung up quite spontaneously. Please pray for the Personal Ordinariate in Great Britain, as it seeks to offer a home in the Catholic church for former Anglicans, in a distinctive and culturally welcoming manner.

As life settled, a decision was made in 2017 to move these groups back to Allen Hall, having used the Catholic Chaplaincy facilities at Newman House under the continued leadership of Fr Stephen Wang. It was at this time that I, as an Ordinariate priest, took over as Director for Vocations and Formation, and joined the staff at Allen Hall also. Present seminarians now integrate their formation into existing courses, attending at least one day/night each week. We also meet by Zoom each Monday evening with a couple of priests from the Governing Council, discussing aspects of theology and formation. Ideally, we look for men to spend more time residentially in Allen Hall, in order to gain the most out of their formation, and fellowship with staff and seminarians. The usual time for former Anglican clergy to ‘retrain’ for Catholic priesthood is around two years, but that is dependent on their prior

The Rt Rev Mgr Keith Newton, PA is ordained priest in Westminster Cathedral, alongside two other former Anglican bishops, 15th January 2011.

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Editor: Lorcán Keller, Diocese of Westminster Allen Hall, 28 Beaufort Street, London SW3 5AA allenhall.org.uk

Profile for RCWestminster

Allen Hall Seminary News - Easter 2021  

The staff and seminarians of Allen Hall Seminary share their news from the past year in time for Good Shepherd Sunday

Allen Hall Seminary News - Easter 2021  

The staff and seminarians of Allen Hall Seminary share their news from the past year in time for Good Shepherd Sunday

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