Bishop Richard ordained Stephen O’Brien to the priesthood, during Mass at Arundel Cathedral on Sunday 4 July. The Mass, which took place in accordance with current Covid-19 regulations, was concelebrated by 24 priests of the Diocese. Fr Stephen grew up in Sussex, worshipping at St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Hastings. He first considered a vocation to the priesthood as a young boy, though growing older believed that God was calling him to a career in teaching. Speaking about his decision to join the seminary Fr Stephen said: “I qualified as a teacher, and enjoyed that valuable job, but, as St Augustine says, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O God". I realised that God was calling me in a different direction in my mid-twenties, and, after much discernment, discovered that it was to serve God's people as his priest.”
‘I have just finished my fourth year of formation at St John's Seminary, Wonersh. And, hopefully, I will spend the next academic year in Arundel Cathedral on my Extended Pastoral Placement. I am originally from Argentina born to Italian parents. I completed a degree in English as a Foreign Language back in Argentina where I worked as a teacher. Once I settled in Europe, and after a career break, I moved to the area of Human Resources where I worked as a project manager, a position I held until I started my priestly formation. Due to work commitments, I had the chance to live in various European cities until I finally settled in the UK.
My parish base is currently Arundel, where I live when I am not in seminary. During my formation I have had one short pastoral placement in Chichester; however, for the past 3 years, I have had the opportunity to visit other parishes of the diocese as well as take part in the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes as a Redshirt leader in 2018.’
‘I was baptised in the Church of England while studying Law and German Law at university, and soon began exploring ideas about vocation. I spent some time working in parishes in central London to try it out, and then began training for the Anglican ministry. During that time I felt the pull of the universal Church and became a Catholic just over four years ago. After a year’s placement in a parish I went to the English College in Valladolid, Spain, for an introductory year, and have now finished my second year at St John’s, Wonersh. From September 2021, I'll be at Allen Hall seminary in Chelsea, which I'm sure will be a fruitful and enjoyable place. I’m enjoying the prayer life and studies, and the chance to get to know people and parishes around the Diocese.'
‘Following a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Bristol, I spent three years in academic research, followed by thirteen years teaching in secondary schools. Throughout this time, I felt I had a vocation to Priesthood, but was highly successful at ignoring this calling. I am now in my fourth year of formation at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh and have spent the last year on pastoral placement in Eastbourne. In summer 2018, Stephen O’Brien and I spent six weeks working in a rural parish in Kenya, which was extremely rewarding. Seminary life is incredibly challenging on many different levels, but I have never been happier, and the time has provided a wonderful opportunity for growth.’
Gary completed the propaedeutic year of his formation at the Royal English College, Valladolid. He is now preparing to begin his third year of major seminary and the move to Allen Hall from St John’s Seminary, Wonersh.
Gary is from St Erconwald’s Parish in Walton on Thames and studied Theology at the University of Chester for his undergraduate and Masters degrees. After university, he worked at the local Catholic secondary school before beginning seminary. After being received into the Church, he started the formal process of discernment for the priesthood - after some years of prayer and many good conversations regarding vocations. Gary has spent time on placements in Chichester, Worthing and Horsham during his formation so far.
Eddie comes from the Parish of the Nativity of the Lord in Redhill, Reigate and Merstham and is now in his third year of seminary. Most of his working life was spent in Adult Education, where he focussed on teaching English to immigrants and refugees, although he also completed a Masters in Theology in 2016. Before starting seminary, he spent a year as a pastoral assistant at St Joseph’s Dorking. His first and second year placements have taken him to Guildford and Chichester, and he has also been spotted on the diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage.