When a man arrives at Allen Hall he begins a six-year period of formation for the priesthood. The word ‘formation’ is significant. This time is not just about ‘studying’ or ‘training’ for the priesthood, it is about growing to become more like Christ the Good Shepherd – it involves the whole person. Our studies and the skills we learn are still hugely important, but even more important is the person we are becoming – a person of faith, of sincere love and compassion, of integrity. Someone who is generous in sharing the gifts God has given him and putting them at the service of God’s people, but also someone who knows his own weaknesses and knows how to face them honestly and if necessary to live with them with humility.
Who is responsible for this process of formation? Of course there are people to help: the formation team at the seminary, the spiritual director, and the bishop himself. But ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible – he guides and challenges and changes us so that we can become more like Christ. And in the day-to-day reality of formation it is the seminarian himself who is the primary ‘agent of formation’: He is the one who must take responsibility for this great journey towards priesthood, giving his heart and mind and energies to all that happens over these six years, facing the opportunities and challenges with honesty and enthusiasm.
Following the inspiration of Christ, the Church provides seminaries as places where those who believe they are called by him to priesthood and who have been accepted for formation may discern and respond to their vocation. Under the authority and guidance of the Archbishop of Westminster, Allen Hall follows in this tradition. Everything at Allen Hall is evaluated and understood in the light of the Scriptures, the Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church, and in the service of the Church’s mission. In his years of formation the student, accompanied by seminary staff, is nurtured in his sense of vocation and grows in intimacy with the Lord. Together the staff and students of Allen Hall form a community which, while transient, is foundational for future priestly life and ministry.
Founded in 1568 by William, Cardinal Allen, in Douai, France, to provide for the English mission in time of persecution, the seminary, as heir of the Douai tradition, is inspired by its martyrs. Reflecting the catholicity and diversity of the Church, Allen Hall is an international community preparing for priestly ministry not only those from dioceses in England and Wales but also from other countries. The mission of Allen Hall is above all to prepare priests for this new Millennium, men who are formed in the image of the Person of Jesus Christ, and able to become for others ‘icons’ of ‘Christ the Priest’, ‘Christ the Teacher’ and ‘Christ the Good Shepherd’.