Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Royal English College, Valladolid

This morning a message from Tom Lynch. He is at the airport waiting for the flight to Spain. With him, I suppose, Sam and William. Possibly also Frankie Doodle who stayed in the parish last year while appearing as Wishy Washy in Panto at the Richmond Theatre (until now Frankie has been a professional comedian). Their common destination is the Royal English College in Valladolid. This is the seminary established by the king of Spain for English students to prepare for priesthood during the Reformation period. Similar colleges existed in France, Portugal and Italy. The seminary in Valladolid and the Venerable English College in Rome are now the only ones still in existence.

I think it is a good thing for our students to have a chance to study abroad when possible. Despite the Commonwealth and being part of Europe, England is still very much an island. There is a danger that we can be like ecclesiastical hobbits - fearful of stepping out of the shire! Of course the mere fact of studying in a foreign country doesn´t in itself broaden our outlook (the English College in Rome of the 1980's had its own shire-like qualities) but it can facilitate the process. The Church is bigger than England, and is certainly bigger than any individual parish. The experience of a different culture with its customs and traditions can help us distinguish between 'form' and 'substance' - between the outward show and what really matters.

Some years ago I got back to England after visiting my brother in Monaco. The British press was carrying articles on an English bishop who had commented on the need for England to be more open to Europe. In Monaco and France all the Churches were strongly pushing the forthcoming World Youth Day in Rome, an event almost unnoticed in England. I have to admit, my first response to the articles was that perhaps the Catholic Church herself in England could lead the way in this new oppenness! When I was a seminarian I was sometimes told not to use the expression 'Roman' Catholic - we were supposed to be 'English' Catholics. English, Roman or Spanish - hopefully the experience of studying abroad will simply help our students be more 'catholic' in their outlook.

2 comments:

Thomas Lynch said...

Hi Fr. S!

How's Spain. From Valladolid it's looking pretty good. Our beautiful church, private oratory and student oratory are all very conducive to prayer.

I was slightly dubious, I'll admit, when I read about the year in Valladolid, however, I have completely reassessed my opinion. I'm really looking forward to growing in my faith and vocation with these wonderful, generous young men.

Please pay for us!

Fr Stephen said...

Hi Tom
How about some photos? Don't let the chaps forget that it's Vagner's birthday on Saturday.