SPEC to Seminary

Last year, Tim was a volunteer missionary at SPEC. This coming academic year, he’ll be joining the seminary. Read all about Tim and stay tuned for future updates from his first year – in Spain!

Tim3

Born and raised into a Catholic family, my faith was initiated by my grandmother and encouraged by my father. My parents divorced in late 2002, followed by the passing of my grandmother the year after. My aunt (father’s sister) recognised the seed that my grandmother had sown, and so nurtured and sustained my faith which enabled me to grow and develop in many areas of life both spiritually and otherwise.

Shortly after my parents filed for divorce, my aunt adopted me and my younger brother and raised us as her own from 2002 to present. She has been, and continues to be, a rock in my life, supporting me spiritually, emotionally and financially. She has also encouraged me in whatever I set my mind to do. During my 6th form days I was seriously considering Counselling; at university I was thinking of becoming an RE teacher. Through all of this uncertainty about where I wanted to be, my aunt was, and still is, there, as someone I can turn to for help in any shape or form.

On hearing that I had been accepted for Priestly Formation in early March, she was filled with such joy and is surprisingly more excited than I am. I think it’s safe to say that she is very proud of me and gives thanks to God for the ways in which He continues to bless our family; this truly brings me great happiness.

Study

I attended Rosary Primary School in Heston; St Mark’s Catholic School in Hounslow; and St Mary’s University College in Twickenham (graduating with top honours in Theology and Religious Studies). I was also fortunate to do some study abroad in Rome and Jerusalem.

Hobbies/Interests

  • Listening to music
  • Reading (secular and spiritual)
  • Playing sports i.e. football and basketball
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Dining out
  • Movies/Going to the cinema
  • Surfing the web

Influences

The first time that I thought about vocation to the ‘Priesthood’ was during my secondary school years. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday; extremely vivid. I was studying after school, one-to-one with my RE teacher. All of a sudden, out of the blue, no context, I was asked by my teacher at the age of 13/14 “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest” to which I replied “No, not really.” To my surprise, I didn’t feel freaked out; instead, it felt normal. From this moment on, my life changed forever. Over the next seven years of my life, this question – “Have you ever considered becoming a priest” – never left me. It would surface and take many different forms in many different circumstances, through many different people, some of whom I had never met before. This question to follow and serve God in this way was not going away; and so, over these next few years, I seriously began to consider the possibility, and I began to think, reflect and pray – in essence, I was discerning whether God was calling me to such a vocation.

Tim with a fellow volunteer missionary from SPEC
Tim with a fellow volunteer missionary from SPEC

After finishing my university degree, I met with a friend of mine, Carl Fisher, for a catch up in London. We spent the afternoon talking about our futures, and simply what to do next. He had suggested to spend a year in Valladolid. However, I was hesitant at the time. Seeing that, he suggested that if I was unsure as to where God was calling me, or uncertain as to what I would like to do with my life, I should seriously consider applying to SPEC. I would then be in an environment where I could discern through prayer, through the quiet and stillness of a retreat centre as to where God could be leading me. This would also entertain the prospect of teaching, as I would be running retreats for schools and parishes in the Diocese of Westminster. This made sense to me; so I thought there’s nothing to lose and the first thing I did on arriving home was apply to spend a year as a Volunteer Missionary at SPEC. I was accepted and, as of writing, have recently finished my time there. However, time has been well spent, as during my time there, God seems to have confirmed where He wants me to be, and this was affirmed following my acceptance by ++ H E Cardinal Vincent Nichols in March for Priestly Formation. I begin my propaedeutic year in September. Of course, this year too, is a year of discernment, and I suppose it is true to say that the process of discernment is an ongoing one. It stops on the day of Ordination, after the Bishop lays his hands and welcomes you into the Royal Priesthood of Christ.

It is right for me to give credit to the ongoing support and encouragement from past parish priests of Our Lady and St. Christopher’s; Rev. Paschal Ryan, Rev. Anthony O’ Gorman and more recently Rev. David Reilly who is the Diocesan Chaplain as well as Youth Chaplain at SPEC!

Lourdes

Tim has been a frequent volunteer to Lourdes
Tim has been a frequent volunteer to Lourdes

Since 2004, I have been attending the annual Westminster Pilgrimage to Lourdes. I’ve played my part in many different roles such as: altar server; choir singer; Reds helper; and in recent years Redcap and team leader. This year, marking 25 years of the Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage, was my 8th visit to Lourdes. I took on a new role – that of a seminarian – joining my fellow brother seminarians in the beautiful and blessed place. Lourdes is most definitely a cornerstone in my life, especially in regard to my relationship with Mary. Through the years, and in more recent times, I have begun to recognise how important Mary is, and how close she is to Christ, her Son, our Saviour. She continues to intercede and show me the way to her Son and to God’s will for my life. Indeed, the Mother of the Church and Mother of all.

Favourite Saints

  • St. Paul
  • St. Therese of Lisieux
  • St. Jean-Marie Vianney
  • St. Peter
  • St. Matthew
  • St. Alban
  • St. John the Evangelist

Recommended Books on Vocation to Priesthood

BBC Radio 4 Interview

Towards the end of May I was asked by Fr. Richard Nesbitt (Vocations Director for the Diocese of Westminster) and Fr. Chris Jamison (Director of the National Office for Vocations), whether I would be willing to participate in a radio interview for BBC Radio 4, focusing on ‘Young Men entering Seminary’. I embraced this opportunity and was featured on their ‘PM’ programme.