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On Saturday 29th May 2021, Bishop John Sherrington celebrated Mass at Allen Hall for seminarians to receive the ministry of lector and admission to candidacy.

Five seminarians were instituted into the ministry of lector: John Casey, Marco Lazzaron, Domagoj Matokovic and Juan Sola Garcia from the Diocese of Westminster, and Moses Itene from the Diocese of Brentwood. Three seminarians were granted admission to candidacy: Mark Ashwood from the Diocese of East Anglia, Francis Thomas from the Diocese of Westminster and Mark Wharton from the Diocese of Southwark.

In his homily, Bishop John highlighted that the Mass was being celebrated on the feast day of St Paul VI, and shared some of the teachings of St Paul VI with the seminarians.

‘Today we keep the memory of St Paul VI. In his homily at the Mass of canonisation, Pope Francis reminded us of words that St Paul VI wrote, “It is indeed in the midst of their distress that our fellow men need to know joy, to hear its song.” (Gaudete in Domino, 1). Jesus invites us to return to the source and well-spring of our joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, and the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way.

‘You will have a responsibility to communicate this joy to others, whether as readers proclaiming the Word or candidates telling others of the choice you are making for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Evangelisation is the communication of this joy so that it resounds in the hearts of men and women. The fullness of joy is to be found in following Christ and shaping one’s life in conformity with his.’

Bishop John also spoke about Dei Verbum, ‘Word of God’, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation:

‘After almost sixty years, we are still finding the true meaning of these complex texts. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 18th November 1965, we understand more fully the mystery of God’s revelation and that Christ our Teacher reveals God’s Word through both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. It is so critical that you hold both together in the right way, that you preach and teach.

‘The familiar words of St Jerome remind us, “For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”. Dei Verbum instructs the clergy to deepen their love and knowledge of the scriptures, "through diligent sacred reading and careful study" (DV, 25) so that we may walk together with Christ, speak to him and listen to him as the Lord spoke "mouth to mouth" with Moses (Numbers 12:6-8). This is the treasure that you will share with others so that they may be full of joy.’

Addressing those seminarians admitted to candidacy, Bishop John offered an extract from St Paul VI’s encyclical, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus:

‘St Paul VI confirmed the gift of priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite. His encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus was promulgated on June 24th 1967. Particularly, I offer this to those of you who are accepted today as candidates for your dioceses and those preparing for ordination to the diaconate very soon. He wrote movingly of our vocation and our response to the divine calling.

‘“The response to the divine call is an answer of love to the love which Christ has shown us so sublimely. This response is included in the mystery of that special love for souls who have accepted His most urgent appeals. With a divine force, grace increases the longings of love. And love, when it is genuine, is all-embracing, stable and lasting, an irresistible spur to all forms of heroism.”’

The full text of Bishop John’s homily is available here.

You can support the formation of seminarians by donating to the Priests Training Fund.