This September six new men will begin seminary formation for Westminster diocese, which means that we currently have 32 men studying for the priesthood. Below, Tim Mangatal, at 22 the youngest of our six new men, reflects on the most important influences on his journey to seminary…
Born in West London and raised in a Catholic family, my faith was formed by my grandmother and encouraged by my father. Sadly my parents divorced in late 2002 and my grandmother died the year after. But my aunt recognised the seed that my grandmother had sown, and nurtured my faith which enabled me to develop both spiritually and in other ways. She then adopted me and my younger brother and has raised us since 2002. She has been, and continues to be, a rock in my life, supporting me in every way and I owe her a great debt of gratitude. Family life has had its ups and downs but has also made me who I am today and I thank God for it.
School and Parish Life
I have been very blessed to have had a Catholic education from the beginning.
I attended Rosary Primary School in Heston, St Mark’s Catholic School in Hounslow and St Mary’s University College in Twickenham, where I graduated in Theology and Religious Studies. More recently, I have had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome and Jerusalem. My home parish is Our Lady and St Christopher’s in Cranford, an important place where my faith has developed. I have been an altar server for many years and also helped with the youth group. My parish priests and more recently
Fr David Reilly, as Diocesan Youth Chaplain, have supported and encouraged me.
A Calling to the Priesthood
The first time that I thought about vocation to the priesthood was at 13 when my R.E. teacher asked me out of the blue: ‘Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?’, to which I replied ‘No, not really’. To my surprise, I didn’t feel disturbed by the question; instead, it felt normal. From that moment on, her question has never left me. It has resurfaced during different circumstances and taken many different forms, sometimes being asked by people whom I had never met before. Over the years I began more and more to think, reflect and pray to know if the priesthood was indeed God’s will for me.
After finishing my degree, I was uncertain what to do next. A good friend advised me to apply as a Volunteer Missionary at SPEC, the Diocese’s Youth Retreat Centre, where I might continue to discern in a structured and prayerful environment where God was leading me. Now that my year there has finished, I can see it as a real privilege to have had the opportunity to grow in my own faith while helping young people from all over the diocese to deepen their own relationship with God. My own decision to apply for seminary was affirmed when I was accepted by Cardinal Vincent in March for priestly formation. I go to begin my propaedeutic year in the English seminary in Valladolid in mid-September. Of course, this coming year too will be a time for further discernment, a journey which will continue, I am sure, right up to the day of, God willing, ordination to the Priesthood.
One more important influence on my life I must mention. Since 2004 I have been on the annual Westminster Pilgrimage to Lourdes. I’ve played my part in many different roles such as altar server, singer, Reds helper and, in recent years, Redcap and team leader.
This year, my eighth visit to Lourdes, I took on a new role, that of seminarian, joining my brother seminarians in this beautiful and blessed place. Lourdes is most definitely a cornerstone in my life, especially in regard to my relationship with Mary. Over the years I have come to recognise how important God’s Mother is, how close she is to Christ, her Son and our Saviour, and how close she is to us too. She continues to intercede, showing me the way to Jesus and to God’s will for my life.
I humbly ask for her continuing prayers and protection for me as I begin this next stage of my journey and I also ask your prayers for myself and all my fellow Westminster seminarians: we can’t do this without you