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New House of Formation established within Diocesan Seminary Allen Hall

Agreement has been reached between the Diocese of Westminster and the Neocatechumenal Way formally to establish the Redemptoris Mater House as a House of Formation within the structure of Allen Hall.

After over twenty years of cooperation between the Neocatechumenal Way and our Diocesan Seminary at Allen Hall, formal agreements governing this growing cooperation have been signed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Kiko Arguello in the presence of the other leaders of the Neo Catechumenal Way.

These years have seen very significant growth in mutual trust and understanding in the formation of men for the priesthood with deepening appreciation of the strengths brought to this journey by the Neocatechumenal Way and its communities.

This agreement formally establishes the Redemptoris Mater House, at present in Harewood Avenue, as a House of Formation within the structure of the Diocesan Seminary, Allen Hall. Redemptoris Mater will have a special missionary character so as to enable priests whose Christian life and vocation is nurtured in The Way to be ready to serve not only as priests in the Diocese of Westminster but also in response to the demands and invitations of the New Evangelisation in countries around the world.

The agreements cover all aspects of the complementary role of Redemptoris Mater as a special House of Formation within the Seminary of Allen Hall in forming candidates for ordination to the priesthood in the Diocese of Westminster. They also cover matters concerning the appointment of these priests during the years of their ministry.

This agreement lays the foundations for a generous participation by the Diocese of Westminster in the ‘missio ad gentes’ which is so central to the vision of the Neo Catechumenal Way and in which the support of families of The Way also play an important part.

The signing of these agreements and the formal establishment of the Redemptoris Mater House is the fruit of these years of cooperation and an important step in this developing partnership between the Diocese and the Neocatechumenal Way.

Speaking on behalf of the Neocatechumenal Way, Fr Francesco Donega said:

“The signing of the decree which formally establishes the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation has filled us with great joy and gratitude. The Redemptoris Mater House of Formation is a Diocesan institution in the full canonical sense of the word, and lies under the direct jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Westminster. At the same time its governing documents, officially signed last Friday, recognise the Neocatechumenal Way not only as the most specific and fundamental element in the seminarians’ formation but also as a privileged pastoral instrument to reawaken the life of faith in many of our contemporaries. After more than thirty years of growing mutual knowledge and trust, “the Diocese of Westminster welcomes the Neocatechumenal Way in the Diocese as an itinerary of Christian Formation, with its particular charism and spiritual gifts” (Memorandum of agreement).

It is about twenty years since the late Cardinal Basil Hume allowed the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation on an experimental basis in the Diocese. Since then cooperation with Allen Hall has progressively developed. We are very grateful to all those who have been Rectors in these twenty years – Monsignor Keith Barltrop, Fr Jim Overton and particularly, in more recent years, Canon Paul McGinn, Monsignor Mark O’Toole, bishop elect of Plymouth, and now Fr Roger Taylor – for the very important part each one of them has played in building up this relationship of trust and close cooperation. We cannot forget all who have been on the staff at Allen Hall in these years and have offered our seminarians immense support, treating us with sympathy and understanding. We are particularly grateful to all the Allen Hall seminarians for the friendships we have enjoyed with them on our daily journey together. We want also to thank the clergy of Westminster for welcoming each priest from Redemptoris Mater as a brother and a member of the same presbyterate.

We remember with gratitude the late Cardinal Hume, who guided our first steps and took the momentous decision of ordaining the first priest who came from our House. We wish to thank Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’-Connor for accompanying us with his fatherly warmth. And we are particularly grateful to Archbishop Vincent Nichols who gave us the immense joy of seeing the crowning of this long journey. We are certain that this is just a beginning, as we prepare to contribute to the missionary dimension of the apostolate of the Diocese of Westminster, in its commitment to the world-wide task of the new evangelisation.”