From left to right: Fr Jonathan Cotton, Limnyuy Gamsi, Rev. Jonathan Whitby-Smith, Bishop Patrick McKinney, Rev. Paul Smith, Tom Vause, Liam Carpenter, John Owens & Fr Paul Newman
Each year the seminarians for the diocese of Nottingham get together for a summer conference. It’s always a joyful occasion, and usually the only time that all the seminarians studying in different seminary’s and countries get together in one room. This year we spent Tuesday 18 July through to Thursday 20 July together at the Rosmini Centre, near Loughborough. The program was packed with good things, including Mass, Morning and Night Prayer together, time before the Blessed Sacrament, shared meals and much fun. It was particularly wonderful to welcome our two new seminarians, Tom Vause and John Owens, to the conference this year. It was also a great opportunity for the seminarians to get to know the new vocations directors, Fr Paul Newman and Fr Jonathan Cotton.
The backbone of the conference were five talks on various aspects of the diocesan priesthood within the Diocese of Nottingham. Marsha Kemple spoke to us about school chaplaincy and how a parish priest can engage with, and make a real difference, in his local schools. Fr Simon Gillespie shared some experiences from his first few years of priesthood, particularly the journey from assistant priest to parish priest and all the challenges and gifts that brings. Fr Michael Eastwood giving sage words of advice after 57 years of priesthood, encouraging the seminarians to be priests who stay close to Jesus present in the Eucharist and make a particular effort to visit their parishioners in their homes. For our fourth conference John from Nottingham prison talking to us about the challenges of prison ministry and how parish priests can help those coming out of prison.
The final conference was given by Bishop Patrick who shared with us some of his vision for the diocese and asked the seminarians to share with him from their own experiences. The conference finished with an opportunity for each seminarian to speak with the bishop privately, a time greatly appreciated and valued by the seminarians, and then with Mass celebrated by Bishop Patrick.