New Rector appointed to Allen Hall Seminary

Filed in News by on December 11, 2013 0 Comments
Fr Roger Taylor

Fr Roger Taylor

News came out today that Fr Roger Taylor, the current Vice-Rector, has been appointed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols to be the new Rector at Allen Hall, the seminary of the Archdiocese of Westminster. Fr Michael O’Boy, whilst retaining his responsibilities as Dean of Studies, is to be the new Vice-Rector. Fr Roger takes over from Mgr Mark O’Toole, who will become the new Bishop of Plymouth in January.

This is a short testimony that Fr Roger gave during a night vigil in Westminster Cathedral when the relics of St Therese were displayed in 2009:

It is a powerful moment for me to be here on this sanctuary in this Cathedral speaking about my own call to priesthood, because it was here that I was ordained priest by Cardinal Cormac – nearly 10 years ago now.

My story maybe is not typical – I was a late starter and I wasn’t even Catholic – but it is a sign to me of how God is at work everywhere and always – always reaching out to us, always calling, even, seemingly, to the most unlikely of us. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my working life doing what I had always wanted to do, working in the arts. It was a great life, an exciting life; music and the arts generally are vital ways in which we can ask all questions about what it is to be human.

And I think God was using these rich and varied experiences to keep me asking the questions, and to my surprise, I found myself one day led, I can only say by the Holy Spirit, into the nearby Catholic church, to look for some answers. Mass was being celebrated and although it didn’t seem too unfamiliar to a nominal but deeply lapsed Anglican, yet somehow it felt very different, and I was drawn to go again; and, providentially, on that occasion something I had never seen before was taking place. I didn’t know it then but this was the Forty Hours devotion, and I now began to understand what was different. It wasn’t a matter of words, but of what the priests and people together believed.

You will often hear non-Catholics say that on being received, they have a profound sense of coming home and that is exactly what it felt like. I hade been happy, I had had no deep sense of anything missing in my life, but the lord showed me the great chasm, that somehow my busy but good life had managed to conceal. He showed me that my happiness wasn’t illusory, but that I was only in the foothills of happiness, because I didn’t know him.

Immediately, I felt called to take my faith much further, deeper – it seemed to demand more of a response than just getting on with my old life – but time passed and life continued to be absorbing in so many ways. The thing is, though, that once God has unfolded to you the life he wants for you’not only will he not let you go, but you will also yourself know that the only true happiness lies in following his call.

There were many difficulties on the way. There was pain and loss; loss of an extraordinary way of life – I had been so fortunate – loss of friendships, and the loss of people I loved, who could not accept what was happening. Sometimes the obstacles seemed impossible, but somehow I always felt supported. God would not dessert me. He never has.

I still seem to myself to be the unlikeliest of priests, but I count myself maybe also among the happiest. How much I have loved my life in parishes here in the Diocese. How much I love my life now in the seminary. And how fine are the men in our care. So often it feels as though it’s day one of my priesthood all over again, and it’s as though I am coming to it afresh. And it’s hard to explain, but even when I celebrate Mass it sometimes feels as though it’s for the very first time – the words, even, the enormity of it, still have the power to shock me, almost into silence

No one could be more surprised that I am standing here tonight. It is all gift. It is all grace.

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These unsigned articles are prepared by different members of the Jericho Tree team

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