This year the Archdiocese has 12 students studying for the priesthood – we meet them as they commence or continue their studies.
Pontifical Beda College, Rome
Philip Carr writes: It was on my first visit to Lourdes with the Archdiocesan music group at the age of 18 that I first felt a strong and overpowering call to serve the Lord, but I never felt ready to say yes. It was again on pilgrimage to Lourdes, some 18 years later, when this call I had buried deep inside came fighting its way to the forefront of my thoughts and this time I couldn't bury it. In September 2013 I was sent to Valladolid in Spain for the propaedeutic year, which helped me a lot in my discernment. The Archbishop then sent me to Rome to study at the Beda College. I was ordained deacon at St Paul's Basilica in Rome on 14 June this year.
Anthony Kelly writes: I am currently studying at the Beda College in Rome where I will undertake my final year of studies as a deacon. I was ordained on 14 June at St Paul's Outside-the-Walls, followed by a celebration in the College with family and friends who had made the trip to Rome. Previous to this I completed a year at St Alban's College, Valladolid. Over the summer I have been getting used to being a deacon in my own parish of St Mary's in Wigan and I am currently enjoying my final seminary placement in the parish of St Wilfrid in Widnes. Thank you to all who have supported me: it does make a big difference.
Carl Mugan writes: I am a mature student for the priesthood at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, currently preparing for my fourth and final year there. My time in Italy has been an amazing experience, allowing me to discern properly what plans God has for me, as well as making some fantastic friends and the opportunity to study and deepen my faith. Prior to joining the Beda, I was chaplain to St Peter's Catholic High School in Wigan, which was great preparation for the journey I have been on. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Archdiocese and my fantastic family and friends. I would kindly ask that everyone keep all those discerning and training for the priesthood in your thoughts and prayers.
Venerable English College, Rome
Joshua Dixon writes: Having grown up in Huyton, attending schools in Cronton and Liverpool, I opted to study theology at university. I was fascinated by the deeper questions of faith, meaning, why things are and, ultimately, who or what God is. More personally, who is God for me. Although I had been in touch with the diocesan vocations director before university, I began to discern if the Lord was calling me to a monastic vocation. Over time, however, I came to realise that the diocesan priesthood allows for a broader mixture, a cocktail if you will, of spirituality, lived out in a more direct service of God's people. Archbishop Malcolm sent me to the Venerable English College in Rome, where I am about to begin my third year of philosophy at the Dominican-run Angelicum University. It has been a rewarding and exciting journey of growth and development.
St Mary's College, Oscott
Joseph Champion-Williams writes: I am from the parish of St Wilfrid in Garston, an ex-Army reservist and also a graduate of Liverpool Hope University, having read politics with international relations. More recently I've spent this past year, as Pic readers will know, in northern Spain completing the first year of my formation in what is known as the propaedeutic year. I had a wonderful time in Valladolid and I am sad not to be returning. However, I must go on and continue my formation, please God, to the priesthood and I am now being sent to Oscott College in Birmingham. I am looking forward to this new challenge.
Thomas Clarke writes: I am 23 and have been in priestly formation for the Archdiocese since September 2012. My parish church is St Charles Borromeo, Aigburth, and as a child I attended Carleton House Preparatory School and then St Edward's College. I wanted to be a priest since early childhood and applied to Archbishop Kelly to begin seminary formation on the Lourdes pilgrimage in 2012. I spent my first year in formation at the English College in Valladolid and have spent the subsequent four years at St Mary's College, Oscott. I have just begun my fifth year at Oscott, and please God, I will be ordained a deacon next summer and a priest the following year.
Hugh Dunleavy writes: I am 21 and starting seminary at Oscott in September. I was born and grew up in Warrington, in a Catholic family of four brothers and four sisters. Ever since I was little I've felt called to be a priest. When I finished my A levels three years ago I joined a missionary group based in France, called the Paris Foreign Missions. I did three years of seminary in France, and during that time discerned that my vocation was to come back to the Liverpool Archdiocese to be a diocesan priest. I arrived back in the country this summer and am really looking forward to starting at Oscott.
St John's Seminary, Wonersh
Peter Murphy writes: I am from St Marie's on the Sands parish in Southport, and will begin my fourth year of seminary formation this September. For the next nine months I will be undertaking a long placement at St Matthew's, Clubmoor and St Cecilia's, Tuebrook with Father Conor Stainton-Polland and his parish team. After this placement, I will return to St John's Seminary, Wonersh in the Surrey Hills for the final two years of formation. Before heading to Hertfordshire University to study business management, I was head boy at St Mary's College, Crosby. It was during my time at St Mary's that I first began to think I may have a vocation to the priesthood.
St Alban's College, Valladolid
Simon Bristow writes: I am 55 and will be going to Valladolid in Spain for my continuing journey towards the priesthood. I converted to Catholicism in the early 80s. I have had a varied working life, working as an office administrator, in the casino industry, for a funeral company, and recently owning martial arts schools where I taught Taekwon Do. My journey started when I went to church with a Catholic friend, because it was a Sunday morning and he couldn't play football as he had to go to church; I was taken aback by the sign of peace, complete strangers wishing me peace – I decided to find out more.
Peter Cusick writes: My home parish is St Michael's, West Derby Road. I have been assisting Father James Preston at St Charles', Aigburth for the past 18 months, and during this time I have shared my spiritual journey with that of the community and have learned more about the priesthood and what it entails. I am still involved in my home parish on Sundays, preparing a meal for the local community. I previously worked as an alarm and CCTV engineer, and will miss this work, but I am now looking forward to going to Valladolid, this September, to begin my training for the Catholic priesthood. Please pray for me and the other seminarians who will begin formation this September.
Martin Fyles writes: I am originally from Our Lady and St Joseph's parish, Southport, and I moved back there in 2014 after teaching English in Spain for three years. Since then, I’ve worked in various roles while continuing to discern a vocation to the priesthood that first suggested itself around 20 years ago. I'm very glad to have the opportunity to move forward in this journey, starting with the propaedeutic year in Valladolid. Before teaching in Spain, I worked for several years in the refugee field, as well as in the chaplaincy and student accommodation at Liverpool Hope University. I love languages, travel, walking and watching football, supporting both Everton and Southport (more than enough penance for most people). I'm looking forward to seminary. Please keep me in your prayers.
Peter Ross writes: I am extremely excited to start my training for the priesthood at Valladolid this September. Since a young age I have felt a calling to the priesthood, and for the past five years I have been meeting our vocations director to discern my vocation. I have just finished studying at the University of Derby where I completed a degree in youth and community development, alongside my role as a youth worker at YMCA Derbyshire. After many years of prayer I now feel ready to enter formal discernment at seminary. I would like to ask you all to pray for me as I embark upon my training. Likewise I sincerely promise to pray for you all.
Is the Lord calling you to be a priest?
Monthly meetings for those discerning the call are held the first Saturday of each month at St Charles Borromeo Presbytery, Aigburth Road, L17 9PG, from 10am to 3pm.
For further information contact Father James Preston, vocations director: firstname.lastname@example.org