Twelve new student priests for Westminster

 Twelve new students have started their training for the priesthood at Westminster's diocesan seminary, Allen Hall.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor celebrated Mass at Allen Hall on Wednesday to mark the start of the new academic year.

Andrew Charniec, a seminarian from the Diocese of Westminster was previously a youth worker. He said:" I am looking forward to finding out more about the Church and gaining more pastoral experience".

Martin Plunkett, who has been working in Willesden Green parish said:" I'm the oldest in the class! I'm 40, and they do say that life begins at 40! To be starting something at this age strikes me as a great gift from God. I am looking forward to the year ahead, my work in the parish has been a good foundation but I am really happy to be studying here."

In his homily at the opening Mass, Cardinal Cormac said: "Allen Hall is a very special family of the Diocese and of the Church". Speaking of his own 52 years of experience as a priest he added: "there is real joy in being a priest, it's like the joy of another family that you inherit as a priest, there is a joy in preaching and inhabiting the Word."

Mgr Mark O' Toole, Rector at Allen Hall said:"It is as ever, a delight to see the Cardinal at Allen Hall again. I've been conscious since starting here, that the motto of AH is 'vivamus in spe': we live in hope. How fitting and how true that is, particularly when one sees the rich variety and deep faith of the seminarians and staff who live and work here. "

Fr Chris Vipers, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Westminster, said: "Our new seminarians this year have just begun their induction at Allen Hall and are very excited about the year ahead. Many have left behind homes and jobs and are generously giving themselves to the priesthood. Yes, it is very joyful here today."

There are now 43 men in formation at Allen Hall. 26 live in the seminary; seven live in the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation,; eight are in parish placements, deacons working on parishes, or on discernment years and two belong to Religious Orders.

Source: Archbishops House

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