St John's Seminary, Wonersh

Priestly Formation

Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992)

In his Apostolic Exhortation of 1992, John Paul II established the key vision for priestly formation for the contemporary church. The formation programme at Wonersh has been extensively renewed since its publication to reflect the four areas of formation it identifies: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral.

Conditions of Entry

Students are admitted to the college upon the request of a bishop to whom a candidate has made his application. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, though the average is in fact just under 30. The Seminary also offers a shorter course tailored for more mature students, aged up to about 60. Dioceses who regularly send students to St John's generally make use of the annual Selection Conference that is held at the Seminary in the spring, and is intended to advise the diocesan bishops of the suitability or otherwise of those who apply to them for pre-ordination training. Each candidate is required to complete application forms and provide a number of references together with a full medical report. He is also required to undergo a full psychological assessment.

During the Selection Conference, which lasts two full days, each candidate is interviewed by a priest member of staff, a layman and a laywoman who each cover a specific area of the candidate's life: faith, practice and pastoral involvement; family life and relationships; intellectual capacity and academic achievement. The candidates also take part in a small group discussion facilitated by the Seminary students and observed by a consultant psychiatrist.

The selectors then meet together with the Rector (who acts a chairman of the Selection Conference) to discuss the candidates individually, and to make recommendations to the respective bishops. It is then up to the bishop concerned to accept or reject this recommendation, and to decide where to send each student for training.

Registered Charity No 251342