VocationsVocations in the Clifton Diocese
Clifton Diocese is always seeking to encourage each one of us to consider more deeply how God is calling us to serve. The Vocations Ministry of the diocese seeks to promote vocations and is always happy to come and talk to parishes and schools or other groups about this.
Fr Colin Mason is Vocations Director for Clifton Diocese. He is Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart, Bristol and has a strong focus on promoting vocations within the diocese.
He leads a Vocations team that encourages and supports vocations to the priesthood, the religious life, the consecrated lay life and single life, and to the Permanent Diaconate. The vocation to the married life is encouraged and fostered separately within the Diocese.
Fr Colin Mason
Fr Colin has a focus on vocations promotion and discernment for the diocesan priesthood. He will be happy to answer any questions or to help those who wish to explore and discern a possible calling to service as a priest in the Clifton Diocese.
Fr Dominic Findlay-Wilson
Assistant Vocations Director
Fr Dominic has a particular focus on supporting our current students for the priesthood who are in formation in our seminaries.
Sister Elizabeth Mary
Sister Elizabeth Mary is able to help those men and women who are thinking of exploring a vocation to the religious life – i.e. to be a monk, nun, brother, or sister.
Director of Adult Education and Evangelisation
Sarah promotes vocations to the consecrated lay life and to the single life, and she is very happy to answer questions in these areas.
Deacon Steve Boughton
Deacon Steve promotes vocations to the Permanent Diaconate within the Clifton Diocese and is willing to accompany men in their initial discernment of this path and calling.
As the great English saint John Henry Newman wrote: we each have a mission to do some definite service; God has committed a work to each of us which he has not committed to another; God has called us to do his work. For some men, that calling, that mission, might be to the priesthood. As Vocations Director, it is my role to encourage especially this particular vocation within the Church. After all, the call to the priesthood is a vital one within our Church because a priest is ordained to be a pastor, a sign and instrument of Christ the Good Shepherd for his people, to bring God’s healing touch and reconciliation, and to offer Christ’s sacrifice – the sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope Benedict XVI commended priests to serve God and God’s people: “To respond to the expectations of modern society and cooperate in the vast evangelising action that involves all Christians, we need well-trained and courageous priests who are free from ambition and fear but convinced of the Gospel Truth, whose chief concern is to proclaim Christ and who are prepared to stoop down to suffering humanity in his Name, enabling everyone, particularly the poor and all who are in difficulty, to experience the comfort of God’s love and the warmth of the ecclesial family.”
Clifton Diocese requires heralds of the Gospel – ordinary men called to do extraordinary things. Our diocese needs men to follow that calling of priesthood and to serve our people with holiness and courage.
Could it be you he’s calling? Are you willing to listen to God’s call within the Church? Are you ready to respond to this challenge?
Currently we have four seminarians in formation for the priesthood.
Stuart is currently in his fifth year of formation.
Stuart comes from Holy Family Parish, Swindon. He already has a degree in history and, prior to coming to seminary, spent a year as Chaplaincy Assistant in the University of Bristol Catholic Chaplaincy. In the past few years, Stuart has also had a separate short placement at St Osmund’s, Salisbury and at St Peter’s, Gloucester. Please keep Stuart in your prayers
“On Saturday 14 December 2019 Thomas Lawes, who is currently in his final year of formation at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, was ordained Deacon at the seminary. In a large Mass of Ordination Bishop Richard Moth ordained six men to the diaconate, including Thomas for Clifton Diocese. Thomas is originally from the Salisbury Catholic parishes and, now ordained as a transitional deacon, will we pray be ordained priest to serve our diocese during the coming year.”
Stephen is in his fifth year of formation at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh and – we pray – will be ordained deacon in December.
Stephen comes from St Dunstan’s Parish, Keynsham. He has a degree in Politics and Theology from Leeds University. He has experience of working at St Cassian’s Centre, Kintbury and also as Chaplaincy Assistant at the University of Bristol Catholic Chaplaincy. During his formation, he has had placements in the parishes of St Osmund’s, Salisbury and St Bonaventure’s, Bristol. Let us pray for Stephen too!
Joseph comes from St Gregory’s Parish, Cheltenham. He completed a degree in theology from Oxford in 2014. In 2015, Joseph had the opportunity to visit every parish in the diocese as Fr Matt’s support driver on his ‘Ride for Vocations’! Joseph has had two very positive parish placements in St Nicholas of Tolentino and St Joseph’s, Portishead with St Francis, Nailsea. Let’s keep Joseph in our prayers too!
I’d like to share with you a video we put together last year at Wonersh Seminary. Non vos me elegistis, is a choral piece which I wrote for our seminary schola to sing at our patronal feast, St John’s Day, a couple of years ago – along with some beautiful aerial views of the seminary. I’m hoping it will offer a few minutes of meditative calm which you might be able to use to pray for us all there: because we rely every day on people back home praying for us who are in formation, for the priests who live with us at the Seminary, and those who come in from parishes to teach, and for new vocations to come and join us.
Thank you so much for your prayers! God bless.
Might God be calling you to serve as a permanent deacon within the Clifton Diocese?
- Do you have a deep commitment to your Catholic Faith and your prayer life?
- Are you committed to your family and work – faithful to your responsibilities and generous with your time?
- Do you have a strong desire to serve others, in the Church and in the wider community?
- Have others suggested that you might consider the permanent diaconate to be a vocation for you?
Perhaps God is calling you.
We would always recommend that you have a chat first of all with your own parish priest. He will be able to help you to understand what the permanent diaconate is about. Next do have a talk with Deacon Steve Boughton who can help you with the initial discernment and whether or not you might consider applying to be accepted onto the formation programme for the permanent diaconate.
Eric is a member of the congregation at Holy Rood in Swindon and he supports his wife Marguerite in the youth ministry and music at 5.30pm Mass. He works as a GP in the town and is the proud father of 3 grown up children. He enjoys a walk or bike ride in the countryside and a bit of cooking. He is looking forward to getting more involved in what God is doing in in the parish and the community around us. Eric began his diaconal formation in September 2017.
Richard lives in the parish of St Catharines, Frome, and is a regular visitor to Downside Abbey. As a non-believer he was astonished to receive a ‘calling’ during his son’s confirmation Mass in 2010. He was baptised, confirmed and received his first Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil the following year and has since been on a long journey of discovery. He is married with 3 children and aside from working, studying, prayer and family life, Richard volunteers for Samaritans and enjoys racing mountain bikes when time permits. He is solicitor specialising in construction and engineering. Richard began his diaconal formation in September 2017.
Jose (Joe) Almeida
Joe is a member of Holy Rood Catholic Church in Swindon where he currently serves as a Reader and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and participates in a number of activities in the church. Joe began his diaconal formation in September 2018.
John was baptised in, and is still a parishioner of, St Gregory the Great in Cheltenham. He is involved as a musician, singer, reader and catechist in both St Gregory’s and St Thomas More, and also as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion visits the sick in hospital and those housebound. A lecturer in computer science at the local college, John also provides support maintaining the parish website. He is married to Jane and they have grown up children with whom they enjoy cycling, sailing and making music. John began his diaconal formation in September 2018.
Charles lives in Filton with his wife Catherine and their two teenage sons and has been a member of the St. Teresa’s parish since his return to the Catholic faith in 2013. He works in IT for the city council and is involved in a number of parish activities, including reading at Mass, being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and working as part of the parish SVP and outreach groups. When time allows for leisure, he enjoys cycling and reading. Charles began his diaconal formation in September 2018.
Bart has been living in Bristol for nearly 14 years now and is based in the Polish community Parish Church of the Shrine of Mercy in Bristol. There he is involved in catechesis and evangelisation for youth, men, marriages and families. He is husband to Anna and father of 3 children; loves Bible, all things evangelisation, coffee and sport. Working in social and sport science (football) projects. Bart began his diaconal formation in September 2018.
Consecrated Lay and Single Life
God calls some of us to live in the world with a mission very much in the world – as a leaven in the secular world through our Christian way of life. This might be expressed through the consecrated lay life (living a lay life but with a formal and explicit consecration to Christ) or through the single life within the Church and the secular world of work.
Within Clifton Diocese, we are privileged to have men and women living out a call to consecrated life whilst still being actively involved in work and society. Secular institutes are a relatively new form of consecration in the Church. They developed in the 20th century, enabling lay people to live entirely in the secular world of work and society while also promising to live in poverty, chastity and obedience according to the institute. Through this distinctive form of consecration in the world, members of secular institutes contribute in a particular way to the Church’s evangelising mission by helping to ensure that the Church has an effective presence in society. Members of secular institutes express their special consecration in apostolic activity, living either alone, in their families, or in fraternal groups. Unlike many religious, they do not have a distinctive habit. The different secular institutes have distinctive spiritualities, such as the Dominican Secular Institute and Notre Dame de Vie (Carmelite). Nourished by the spiritual riches of their institute, members find strength to live and work in the ordinary conditions of the world and so contribute to the coming of God’s kingdom. For more information about secular institutes, visit www.secularinstitutes.co.uk.
Sarah Adams in the Vocations team is able to supply more information on these ways of Christian life, to give some guidance and help, and to point you in the right direction for further discernment.
Clifton Diocese is very blessed to have many male and female religious serving our communities. Religious life is a particular way of living out the grace of one’s baptismal call to holiness. It is a life of consecration to God through publicly-made vows, usually of chastity, poverty and obedience in a specific Religious Congregation or Order. Each Order or Congregation has its own way of following Christ, the chaste, poor and obedient Son of God, who was sent by the Father to be the living example of holiness. There are both men and women ‘religious’, as they are called because they follow a particular rule of life. Men are usually monks or brothers, while women become nuns or sisters. Members of religious orders are either contemplative, dedicated to a life of silence and prayer, or active, whereby they live and work ‘in the world’.
The Church requires that the person making the vows be an adult making a free commitment, that they are not already bound by other commitments (e.g. marriage), that they have the ability to undertake the way of life lived by the Order they seek to join, and are accepted by the Order to make vows, thus becoming one of its members.
If you would like more specific information about religious life, please contact Sr Elizabeth Mary Mann, who is the superior at the Bernardine Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady & St Bernard, Brownshill, near Stroud. She will be only too happy to point you in the right direction. Email email@example.com or see the website http://www.bernardine.org/brownshill.html.