Read about three of our seminarians who will continue their training and formation for the priesthood this year.
Frazer Bellfield: The Life of a Seminarian at Allen Hall
Fifth Year Seminarian
Allen Hall Seminary is located in the heart of Chelsea, just off the famous King’s Road. There are seminarians from all over the world who are discerning their calling to the priesthood together on the original site of the house of St. Thomas More. It is quite something to think that this great saint lived here. The famous “Mulberry Tree” under which he used to think, pray and discuss matters with King Henry VIII is still here in the garden.
At Allen Hall the seminarians keep alive the strong tradition of honouring the English martyrs, especially those who studied for the priesthood, and gave their lives at a time when it was extremely difficult to become a priest in England. There is a special devotion to the Martyrs of Douai, English seminarians who had to study abroad in France due to the persecution of Catholics. 158 of them lost their lives, and we continue to honour them and are inspired by them.
Every day begins with a period of meditation in the Chapel, followed by the morning prayer of the Church and then the highlight of our daily routine, the Holy Mass. This is our daily nourishment, and starting our day in this way allows us to pray for all who support and encourage us in our discernment, and to focus our minds and hearts on the academic study and daily routine of seminary life.
Across 6 years students at Allen Hall study many different subjects, including Philosophy, Theology, Biblical Languages, Church History, Liturgy, Psychology and many others! We have an exciting range of classes, and every day brings fresh knowledge and understanding. Meals are taken together, and we also have time to engage in social activities and share in a common fraternity…when we are not studying of course!
Each seminarian will also receive a Sunday placement, a parish where they can attach themselves and share in the life of the parish family. This year I have the great honour of being at our Metropolitan Cathedral of St. George, where I am enjoying taking part in the life and liturgy of the mother church of the Archdiocese.
One day a week each seminarian also takes up a pastoral placement, this could be in a hospital or a school, a care home etc. I find myself this year working in the Chaplaincy at University College London. Like the seminary, the university is a great hub of hustle and bustle, attracting people from many different locations. It is very encouraging to meet and share with young adults, and who knows maybe we might get some vocations from them. I could easily say that one of the greatest joys in our vocation is the many different formative experiences that we get to take part in.
After 5 years of study and preparation, I am greatly looking forward to serving God and Southwark Diocese as a Deacon. There will still be some intellectual formation for me to complete during the next year before my ordination to the priesthood, however, it will be a great joy and a privilege to assist our priests at Mass, to preach the Gospel, to be able to baptise and join together couples in marriage. It is deeply inspiring to know that vocations are prayed for throughout Southwark Diocese, and I know of one particular parish that says a prayer for vocations at the end of every Mass.
Please pray for vocations, and thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given to me over the past 5 years. I look forward to serving you, and you of course are in my prayers too.
I am now in my fourth year of priestly formation and greatly enjoy being on what is called an extended pastoral placement. I have been sent to a parish that I knew very little about previously (St Aidan’s, Coulsdon), but have been greatly blessed by my experiences here and the people I have encountered. The parishioners of St Aidan's are themselves helping me to see what it is to be a priest and shepherd.
I fulfil a number of tasks in my current position; these include assisting liturgies, supporting ministries to the sick and housebound, involvement in catechesis (teaching) and youth work, attending parish social events, working with groups of children in the primary school and operating as a chaplain one day a week in the local hospital. This last task is one that has been a fantastic privilege. Whilst working in the hospital can be draining and difficult, accompanying people in their suffering and seeing the impact of the love of the Lord Jesus upon them, has brought me spiritual nourishment and consolation. I recall that Pope John Paul II once said, “Wherever people are suffering, make it your task to serve them”. As a seminarian you are given many opportunities to serve those who are suffering and doing so is an important part of one’s journey towards becoming a priest.
I will miss living and working in a parish when I return to seminary, but I know I have a lot more to learn as the journey towards priesthood moves onward at what seems like a very quick pace.
First Year Seminarian
From University onwards my entire goal in life was to become an Actor. I was very blessed that by the end of University, I got a good Agent and started booking jobs. But as time went on I noticed there was a longing in my life that wasn’t being filled. Although I wasn’t taking my faith seriously at that point I at least knew that if I wanted to be truly happy I would need the help of God. So one day on a whim, I decided I would try to fully submit myself to the will of God. But I found that once I got on my knees and started to pray, I literally couldn’t say the words. I began to cry at the fact that I could not even utter the phrase, I was too scared. In the midst of my distress In the depth of my heart I heard a voice say “Just let go”. This actually made me cry even more because I just couldn’t. Eventually, I made a promise to at least try to “let go”. After that experience I slowly began to notice a change in myself. I began to look deep into the Catholic faith and I fell in love with The Church’s boundless wisdom and ancient beauty.
I am currently doing my propaedeutic year at The St Alban English College in Valladolid, Spain. I love the discipline and brotherhood of Seminary life, as we all strive with the singular goal of growing in virtue and holiness.
Are you interested in discerning
whether you may have a vocation to the priesthood?
Prayerful and Practical Support for Vocations
We especially welcome prayer for vocations on Good Shepherd Sunday, which traditionally falls on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and this year on 30th April 2023.
The Archdiocese relies on your generous donations to the Southwark Priests Training Fund, in order to meet the substantial training and formation costs for each seminarian.
The Evangelist magazine was originally printed on an annual basis and distributed to parishes, but the Covid-19 pandemic heralded a change in format. Seminarians contribute to the e-magazine, where they publish homilies from senior clergy, prayer guides and spiritual book reviews.