Volunteer missionaries at SPEC

Filed in News by on June 12, 2014 3 Comments


This is a circular letter from the Director at SPEC in the Diocese of Westminster, seeking volunteers for the coming academic year:

I wrote to you back in March with a request for your help in publicising mission-year opportunities for young adults here at SPEC.  This earlier letter coincided with our move to Pinner and now that the move is complete, our website updated with new information and images and our new contact details clarified, it seems a good time to ask again for your help.  You will be aware that SPEC is the youth and children’s retreat centre for the diocese and at the heart of our ‘peer ministry’ are the young people who volunteer to join our community for a year as volunteer missionaries.

Our volunteer team has, historically, been quite international and while this reflects to some extent the universality of the Church, we remain keen to continue increasing the proportion of young people from within our own diocese volunteering here.  Key to achieving this is support from the parishes and schools in our diocese to make suitable young people aware of this opportunity.

What we offer

  • a year of formation in the Catholic faith.
  • a year in a supportive and authentically Catholic community.
  • training and experience in ministry with children and young people.
  • board, lodging and a modest expenses allowance.
  • a commitment and openness to going further on a journey in faith, with all its challenges and surprises.
  • time: on average 40 hours per week (including formation and training time).
  • aged 18-25 at the start of the academic year.
  • a baptised and confirmed Catholic.

What we ask for

What volunteer missionaries need to be

What you are being asked to do

I would be grateful if you could:

  • directly encourage potentially suitable young people to consider a mission year at SPEC.
  • pray for the SPEC community and for the recruitment of our volunteer missionary team.
  • include a paragraph in your parish newsletter – suggested text is given below.

“SPEC, the diocesan retreat centre for children and young people, has now relocated to Pinner in Middlesex.  Each year a number of young adults (aged 18-25) join the resident community for a year as volunteer missionaries.  Perhaps this is the ideal opportunity for you – or someone you know – to combine a year of service with a year of formation in faith in a supportive Catholic community. More details are available at:

Web: www.spec.org.uk/missionyear

Email: spec@rcdow.org.uk

Phone: 020 3757 2500

Facebook: speccentre

Twitter: @SPEC_Community”


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

Comments (3)

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  1. Paul Rodden says:

    I did something similar to this for two years when I was an Evangelical, and can’t recommend these sorts of projects highly enough.

    If you can afford to try it, and if you know you will be working with people who are mature in their faith rather than ‘flakes’, it is so worth it. You will grow not only in your faith but also grasp a deep understanding of the pastoral nature of being a disciple too, if you jump in with both feet. It was probably the most transformative and beneficial thing I have done, apart from getting married!

    Also, if you do it before uni., you’ll be a great asset to the chaplaincy! I met my wife at the Chaplaincy through doing so much together helping to form and shape a community for students as layfolk.

    As a Catholic, however, I would suggest doing something like this would be ideal for someone who wanted to see if they have a vocation, without having to initiate some formal process.

    Once the formal process has begun, it can put all sorts of pressures on a person to continue although, in their heart of hearts, they realise they should not, owing to a sense of feeling they are letting someone down or have to admit failure.

    From conversations in pastoral settings and the findings of other research, continuing to pursue a ‘Vocation’ when it’s clear there wasn’t one (in denial), or ‘for the sake of’, is one of the key factors which has led to abuse in the priesthood and religious life, either of themselves (alcoholism), or others. This project allows you to experience a pastoral environment, living in community, and suchlike, with the pressure off.

    Even if you do none of the above, it will really help you appreciate pastoral issues in parishes, so not be part of the problem yourself, and you’ll be able to sympathise with your priest when he’s frazzled, too!

    Is it open to people outside Westminster Diocese? If so, we will probably advertise it in the parish.

  2. Jon Rogers says:

    Paul – thank you for your positive comments about mission years in places like ours. Although we are keen to increase the number of ‘home grown’ missionaries from within Westminster, the opportunity is certainly open to those from other dioceses.

    • Paul Rodden says:

      Hi Jon,
      Thank so much for replying.

      I’m in Nottingham, but of course many of our young people gravitate to Westminster Diocese for University or Teacher Training anyway.

      I will pass your advert on to our PP.

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