It was a day full of many emotions. To begin with, it was the first official visit of Vincent Cardinal Nichols since being raised to the Cardinalate. Secondly, the annual visitation of the seminary was taking place. Thirdly, and most importantly of all (for the seminarians) it was the day of the last exam for the students at Heythrop and the final lecture for the students studying philosophy!
The day began as normal at 7.30 am with 30 minutes of meditation followed by morning prayer – a break in the routine for a Thursday as Mass would usually follow meditation but we were going to have Mass in the evening celebrated by the Cardinal. The day continued as normal, and the first and second years were watching their watches as 12:20 approached – the break for lunch and the end of lectures.
During the course of the afternoon we had meetings – some of the seminarians from Redemptoris Mater and from dioceses other than Westminster met with the Bishop John Sherrington, auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and the Westminster students met with the Cardinal Nichols. The interviews were based around what the students thought of the formation process and the general “feel” of the House. Some students were also selected to meet with the Governors, so that the other Governors, too, would have the opportunity to hear feedback from the seminarian body.
At 5pm Cardinal Nichols celebrated Mass, and spoke a personal homily to the seminarians in the light of the Gospel, His Eminence spoke of the need for us to persevere, to continue discerning, but always to “remain in my love” (John 15:9). His Eminence also made an interesting link between the faith of the disciples before and after the Resurrection, and how what Jesus was asking of his followers only makes sense in the light of the Resurrection.
Following Mass there was a buffet in the garden – the weather had improved considerably in just a short time, and we were able to enjoy sunshine for a couple of hours, before a torrential downpour brought the day to an end.As a seminarian I find it helpful and encouraging that I am able to meet openly and freely with those who have responsibility for the governance of the seminary. Seminary work isn”t easy and clearly requires a lot of prayer and reflection. Please pray for those who oversee the seminary, the Cardinal, Bishop John, the Governors and of course, the Rector and Vice-Rector and all those who teach and guide us.