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By Francis Thomas, 4th Year seminarian, Diocese of Westminster

On Saturday 24th October, Bishop John Sherrington celebrated Mass at Allen Hall with the institution of Lectors, Acolytes, and the admission of Candidates from among the seminarians. In his homily, Bishop John noted that the celebration was taking place on the transferred Solemnity of the Blessed Martyrs of Douai College, with the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales being celebrated the following day.

Bishop John explained how the Douai Martyrs had to be hidden in plain sight, for fear of being caught, found out as Catholic priests and executed. There was some similarity to each of us having to wear masks at Mass. Our identity was hidden, and yet by the witness of our lives, people would know that we are priests in training.

As each group of seminarians came forward for their ministry, we were reminded of the different aspects of priestly ministry that were being gifted. Initially, for the Lectors, recognition was made of the place that the Word of God, the Scriptures, have in our lives. They inform us of the history of salvation and God’s inspiring message of redemption and eternal life for all people, in all ages.

The Acolytes, myself included, were reminded of the significance of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus, and how much we desire to be united with Jesus physically in Holy Communion, and to bring him to the sick and housebound. There has been a notable deepening desire for the Eucharist, particularly after many months of churches being closed. I was specially moved knowing that I now had the privilege to bring Holy Communion to those in most need and that the newly blessed pyx would be the instrument in which I would carry Our Lord to homes across our diocese.

Lastly, those coming forward for admission to Candidacy, expressed their commitment to their diocese and for continuing their holistic service to Christ and His Church. Wearing their clerical collars, some for the first time, was a visible indication of their specific focus on ordination to the diaconate and, in time, priesthood.

Despite not having the usual array of guests, it was a profound moment of gratitude that we could gather at all, and, ultimately, to be united as one seminary. These ministries and admissions are milestones along the journey of a seminarian in formation for the priesthood. As it states in the rite for Acceptance of Candidates, we are encouraged to pray for our seminarians: ‘May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfilment’.

Image credit: Jakub Joszko