St John's Seminary, Wonersh

Pastoral Formation

Pastoral formation enters into every aspect of Seminary life. Our primary task is after all to prepare students to become good pastors dedicated to mission and a life of service of God's people. Thus the focus of pastoral formation is not only on the development of the necessary skills and knowledge for the proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world, but also on the personal conversion of the one who will embody the mission of the church.

Staff, all of whom retain an active ministry outside of the Seminary, ensure that links are made between their areas of the curriculum and the ministry and mission of the church.

Pastoral formation is facilitated in a range of ways.

Pastoral and Theological Reflection

Students in Years 2 to 4 take part Pastoral Reflection groups which serve to deepen insight into pastoral reality and an ability to make links between their experience and their theological studies.


Students in all years participate in seminars and classes which develop an understanding of key areas of pastoral ministry. These include catechetics, catholic education, and political and applied theology. Students have recently completed a study of On the Way to Life.

Practical Skills

Students are given a grounding in core ministerial skills, such as Listening Skills, facilitating groups, protecting children and safeguarding adults, managing change, communication, and public speaking. Students also participate in an extensive programme of liturgical formation.

Opportunities for Personal Experience

EPP & Pastoral Diaconate

Most student undertake a supervised placement from September to June during their formation, most often after the third year of their studies, though the precise timing is discerned by the student and formation staff. Placements are usually in a parish in a student's own diocese, but have included L'Arche and a catholic boarding school. Supervision includes monthy reflection groups and meetings with the Pastoral Director or another member of formation staff. These placements have consistently demonstrated their ability to contribute significantly to the discernment and formation of students.

Students will also generally undertake a supervised period of pastoral service as a Deacon before they are ordained as priests.

Annual Placement

In May / June each year students undertake a 4 week placement in a parish, usually in their own diocese.

Weekly Placement

Student will also be given a weekly placement in a local parish, school or hospital. Wonersh is within easy reach of a very wide range of potential placements and excellent partnerships have been built up over the years.


Registered Charity No 251342