Birmingham: training day for new priests

 A group of newly ordained and recently arrived priests were given an insight in to the life and workings of the Archdiocese of Birmingham during a special training day held at Cathedral House, on Tuesday 18 November, writes Peter Jennings.

The programme was co-ordinated by Fr Martin Pratt, Secretary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

Sessions, held in the Chapter Room, included: Parish Finance, by Fr John Carlyle, the Diocesan Treasurer; Parish Safeguarding by Mrs Jane Jones, and Diocesan Matrimonial Tribunal, by Fr Gerrado Fabrizio.

Fr John Sharp spoke about Parish Archives and took the group round the Diocesan Archives.

Mgr John Moran, the Vicar General, joined the 13 priests for lunch. Afterwards this correspondent, in his role as Press Secretary to the Archbishop and the Archdiocese, invited everyone outside for a group picture.

He then gave a 30 minute presentation about key things to do and to avoid when dealing with the media ­ television, radio or newspapers.

After answering questions he invited the new priests present to write a sentence or two about what they had found most useful and helpful. They make fascinating reading for both clergy and laity alike throughout the diocese.

They included Fr Cecil Rogerson, Chaplain to Selly Oak Hospital, who wrote: "The topics were all pertinent to our ministries and well presented. It felt like we were being carefully and thoughtfully integrated into the Diocese."

Fr John Peyton, Assistant Priest, St Patrick's Dudley Road, Birmingham, wrote: "The day provided a fascinating insight into the life of the Archdiocese. I was struck by the level of care available to all clergy. It has opened my eyes concerning the work being carried out on a day to day basis in the Archdiocese both by paid and unpaid workers."

Fr Roger Dawson SJ, Chaplain Oxford University, wrote: "It was really useful to meet other newly ordained priests and get some practical tips about life as priest in the diocese."

Fr Ugo Ikwuka, Assistant Priest, St Philip's, Smethwick, commented: "I have learnt that I should never take things for granted when dealing with minors, vulnerable adults and the media."

Fr Paul Smith, Assistant Priest, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redditch, wrote: "It was a useful opportunity to speak face to face with people at Cathedral House we would otherwise just telephone."

Finally, Fr Bob Devaney, Assistant Priest, St Austin's, Stafford, summed up the views of several of the other persist present. He wrote: "It was a valuable day and provided important insights into the practicalities of parish life."

Fr Devaney added: "Seminary provides formation, but hasn't the time for educating us on financial matters and how to make use of archival material."

A second day is now being planned for mid-February 2009 when the new priests will visit Coleshill and receive information about the Catholic Schools in the diocese as well as Religious Education. The priests will also have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the work of Father Hudson's Society and the Birmingham Catholic Youth Service.

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