London: record number of seminarians

 The September start of the 2006 academic year has seen 14 new students start training for the priesthood at Allen Hall, the Diocese of Westminster's seminary in Chelsea. This is the largest intake for six years and brings the total number of students being trained as priests at Allen Hall to 37. Eight of the new seminarians are students for the Diocese of Westminster. The other new arrivals include those training for the Diocese of Lancaster and the Order of St Augustine. Out of the total number of 37 students now at Allen Hall, 18 have been selected for the Diocese of Westminster and are expected to serve as priests in some of its 216 parishes. The new seminarians for the Diocese of Westminster studying at Allen Hall, who range from 24 to 52 years of age, come from a variety of backgrounds, including IT, teaching and school chaplaincy. Five are from the UK, one is from Zimbabwe, one from the USA and one from Poland. Fr Paul McGinn, Rector of Allen Hall commented: "We are delighted that the number of students for the priesthood at Allen Hall is continuing to rise. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the Catholic Church, as evidenced by the popularity of television programmes such as BBC2's 'The Monastery'. Such positive publicity could well be encouraging more to see lifelong service in the priesthood as a possibility and giving them an opportunity to discuss with others what training for the priesthood entails. "As more men come forward and are selected for the priestly formation at Allen Hall, and as our existing seminarians and recently ordained priests help to spread positive news about the priesthood to others, I sense a growing confidence in our diocese regarding the promotion and encouragement of the vocation of every Christian and, specifically, the possibility of priestly vocation." Fr Chris Vipers, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Westminster, added: "I am very encouraged by the increasing numbers of men who are inquiring about the priesthood. For example, we already have twenty men due to attend our next occasional meeting for those interested in becoming priests, which will take place in November 2006. Early in 2007, in the Diocese of Westminster we will be starting more regular monthly 'seekers' meetings. These are intended to make it easier for men to find out more about what becoming a priest entails." Source: Archbishops House