Priestly formation at St John’s Seminary typically lasts six years, including one year which is spent in a parish on an extended pastoral placement. Formation is something much more than academic study or practical training, though it does include these elements; it is about being formed more closely in the image of Christ in order to carry out that particular service which he desires of us. A key element of the model of formation adopted at Wonersh is that of being a community in which priests and students live, pray and study alongside each other. Most of the teaching is carried out ‘in house’, either by the resident formation staff or by visiting tutors, many of whom are parish priests.
The formal programme of formation is structured around the four areas of formation identified by John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhoration of 1992. Pastores Dabo Vobis (‘I will give you Shepherds’): Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral.
Conditions of Entry
Students are admitted to the college upon the request of a bishop to whom a candidate has made his application. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, though the average is nearer 25. Dioceses who regularly send students to St John’s generally make use of the annual Selection Conference that is held at the Seminary in the spring, and is intended to advise the diocesan bishops of the suitability or otherwise of those who apply to them for pre-ordination training. The process is described in more detail in the ‘Discerning your Vocation’ page within this section of the site.