Eleven men have started studying for the Catholic priesthood at Allen Hall in west London

Eleven men have started studying for the Catholic priesthood at the start of the 2010-2011 academic year at Allen Hall, the diocese of Westminster’s seminary in London.

The new intake of 11 new seminarians brings the number of men preparing for the priesthood at Allen Hall to 46. This number includes men who are preparing to become priests for the Diocese of Westminster and also for other English and overseas dioceses and religious orders including Lancaster, Nottingham and Helsinki.

There are now 33 men preparing for the priesthood for the Diocese of Westminster, with eight men having started this September. There are three men studying at Allen Hall, three men at Vallodolid, Spain, one at the Beda College in Rome and one at the Venerable English College in Rome.

Mgr Mark O’Toole, rector of Allen Hall, said: “It is great to have this number of men preparing for the Catholic priesthood at our seminary. The 11 new seminarians, both religious and diocesan, who join us this year embark on a long period of formation, a time not just spent ‘studying’ or ‘training’ for the priesthood but also growing to become more like Christ the Good Shepherd, men of faith and integrity.

“Over the next year, five men are due to be ordained as priests for the Diocese of Westminster. They are already engaged as deacons in a life of service dedicated to God’s people. With their ordination to priesthood they will be sent to serve particular communities to build up the spiritual and pastoral well-being of the parish. Their witness is a sign of God’s faithfulness and I am sure they will be a great encouragement to other men who may be considering a vocation to the priesthood.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “I am delighted to see this number of men coming forward. The life of a priest is one of generous service, willingly given. God willing, these men will become future priests here in our diocese and in other dioceses in England and Wales and abroad. Please pray for them every day.

“During his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that there are many ways of serving Christ. These include the beauty of family life and the noble task of education. However, as the Holy Father said, Jesus Christ also needs priests, ‘good and holy men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep’.”