Recently at Allen Hall Seminary Bishop John Sherrington admitted two seminarians into the Ministry of Reader. Tim Mangatal (left) is from the Diocese of Westminster. Vocations Promoter Canon Stuart Wilson spoke to him about what this special day meant for him.
Canon Stuart: Tim, you received the Ministry of Reader on Saturday 11th March 2017. Can you tell us a bit about this ministry?
Tim: The Ministry of Lector, or Reader, is one of two ministries (Acolyte being the other) established by Pope Paul VI in 1973, previously referred to as the ‘minor orders’ within priestly formation. These ministries can be seen as milestones on the road to priesthood and are generally conferred by a bishop.
Canon S: And what did it feel like to receive this ministry?
Tim: To receive the Ministry of Reader was very affirming especially in light of my vocation. I found it particularly pertinent that I was scheduled to read at Mass the following week, having just been instituted days before. Moreover, I believe that I have been entrusted to proclaim the Word of God: a ministry in service to God and his Church.
Canon S: I think quite a lot of people have met you, Tim, but can you tell us a little about yourself?
Tim: I was born in Ealing, West London and attended local Catholic primary and secondary schools: The Rosary in Heston and St Mark’s in Hounslow. From there I went to pursue a degree in Theology at St Mary’s in Twickenham. After graduation I spent a year at the diocesan retreat centre, SPEC. This was both formative and instrumental in aiding my discernment to priesthood. It is a year that I personally recommend if you are trying to discern your vocation whether that is marriage, single life, priesthood or religious life.
Canon S: Why do you think God is calling you to be a priest?
Tim: To know for certain whether God is calling you to be a priest is not something which one arrives at with great ease or clarity, not especially at my stage in formation. On the contrary, it requires daily discernment until the day of ordination. However, I know I am to serve God and his Church is some capacity and, after careful consideration, I believe at present that this is as a priest.
Canon S: What is seminary like? Is it what you expected?
Tim: Seminary is demanding. It requires your all: academically, spiritually, pastorally and humanly. Although there is a structure and rhythm to the house, no day is the same, which can be either refreshing or disconcerting if you are a creature of habit. But the six years in seminary provide ample opportunities for growth and development which continues throughout ministry. Seminary is not what I was expecting and this is often the case with most things in life. I expected to meet austerely pious men highly versed in the scriptures and theology; instead I met ordinary men aware of their frailty and unworthiness to be called to priesthood, men who desire to serve God and are open to discerning their vocation whatever this may be. The latter often produce the best priests for they are open to God’s grace.
Canon S: How do your friends and family feel about you being a seminarian?
Tim: My family and friends are generally happy that I am training for the priesthood, and they have supported and encouraged me every step of the way.
Canon S: Do you think there are young men in our parishes who might be called to priesthood? What would you say to them?
Tim: In short, yes! I would say first and foremost: ‘Do not be afraid’. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and possibly confused as to why you might think God is calling you. I would definitely take this to prayer and engage at first locally. By that I mean talk to your friends and family about priesthood, perhaps ask if they could envisage you as a priest. After that I recommend talking to your Parish Priest or a priest that you feel comfortable to discuss this with and if you still feel at peace, take a leap of faith and contact the Vocations Promoter. Always remember, God cannot move a parked car!
Canon S: Tim, I have known you for a good few years but I have learnt things from our interview that I didn’t know before. I am very grateful to you for giving us for sharing with us. I suppose I ought to say on behalf of our readers how grateful we all are for your willingness to answer the Lord call and discern the calling to priesthood. I look forward to the day of your ordination.
I hope you, dear reader, have enjoyed getting to know a little more about our new reader and his life at the seminary.