The Diocese of Portsmouth will have 14 seminarians at the start of the new academic year, the highest number in living memory.

Fr Gerard Flynn, vocations director for the diocese, thanked people for their prayers and asked that they continue to pray for current seminarians and for more vocations.

The men are spread across six different seminaries, including Allen Hall in London, the Venerable English College in Rome and the Royal English College of Valladolid.

Portsmouth diocese now has one of the highest numbers of seminarians in England, ahead of dioceses such as Clifton, which has seven, and Southwark, which has 12.

Last week Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth announced the creation of a centre dedicated to vocations and the new evangelisation.

The Adoremus Centre, based on the island of Alderney, is intended to be a “house of prayer” for vocations to all states of life and ministry in the Church, but particularly to the priesthood, the bishop said.

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