History of SPEC

A Volunteer Missionary with young people at SPEC's previous home (Photo: WYM)


SPEC came into existence in 1993, a result of the vision and inspiration of Mgr Vladimir Felzmann and the then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume who both responded to the need to find a way for the Diocese of Westminster to best serve and help our young people. The project was given use of buildings situated in the picturesque grounds of All Saints Pastoral Centre in London Colney and “St Raphael’s”, which had previously been both a children’s home run by the Anglican ‘All Saints’ sister and also the base for the Volunteer Missionary Movement in the UK.

The name ‘SPEC’ stands for ‘Spiritual and Personal Encounter with Christ’.

The vision was, and still is, to create a place that would bring young people closer to Jesus Christ through the sacraments, the liturgy and prayer life of the Catholic Church, witnessed by a community of young adults committed to a journey to holiness.


Over the years the demand for retreats grew and SPEC expanded into more buildings and to a wider age range with The Loft opening in 1998 to provide ministry to children and young people aged 7 -14 years of age.


In January 2011, the closure of All Saints Pastoral Centre was announced and the search began for new home.


In March 2014, we moved to new premises in Pinner that had previously been occupied by the Grail Community. Since then, we have made Waxwell House our home.


SPEC opened its brand new building, The St. Joan of Arc Residential Complex, in October on the same site, in order to continue to grow in our ministry with young people. You can read more about our premises here.