Welcome to the website of Allen Hall, the seminary of the Diocese of Westminster, where about 45 men are currently in formation for ministry as Catholic priests. Situated in central London, the seminary stands in the tradition of the Douai Martyrs who gave their life for the Catholic faith in this country.
Here we try to make real the words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI when he addressed seminarians at the World Youth Day in Sydney: Do not be afraid to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others.
Ours is a rich history, beginning in 1568 during the English Reformation, when to minister as a Catholic priest in this country was punishable by death. So it was that Cardinal Allen founded the seminary not in this country, but rather at Douai in northern France. Over 150 of those early priests then came to England ‘on mission’ and were subsequently cruelly martyred.
After the French Revolution, it became equally dangerous to be a priest in France. Consequently, we returned to an England by then more accepting of the Catholic faith, and settled in Ware in Hertfordshire, until our move to central London in 1975. Our House is now situated on the site of the estate once owned by St Thomas More. Indeed, we still have in our garden one of the original mulberry trees from the orchard he planted, 500 or so years ago. St Thomas, of course, was himself martyred, like so many others, for loyalty to the Holy Father and love of the Eucharist.
This move into London has enabled us to provide the widest possible pastoral experience for our men. Throughout their time here they work in parishes, schools, hospitals and hospices, as well as prisons, with refugees and anywhere where a Catholic Christian presence can make a contribution.
In all that they do, our seminarians seek to deepen their appreciation and love of their faith, and to be formed in in the image of Him who came not to be served, but to serve. They come from a wide range of countries, dioceses, religious congregations and backgrounds, reflecting the rich variety of Catholic life in Europe today. Our motto is Vivamus in spe - May we live in hope.
Rev Dr Canon John O’Leary STB, PhL, PhD