Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Selection Conference

Over the weekend I was at St John's Seminary, Wonersh for the Selection Advisory Conference. There were sixteen candidates attending the Conference including four from Southwark. Arundel and Brighton also had four candidates and most of the other dioceses from the Province had sent one or two men along.

For the applicants the weekend begins with lunch on Friday. The best part of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning are taken up with interviews and other activities. Each candidate is interviewed by a priest who will ask him about his prayer life and his sense of vocation. The interviewer will also try to ascertain the extent to which the candidate has an understanding of the faith. A second interview tries to build up a picture of who the candidate is: his interests and hobbies, his family life and background as well as his general human maturity and understanding of celibacy. A third interview looks at the candidate's educational background. Here the question is one of his capacity to study. As well as these three key interviews they also meet with a psychiatrist who seeks to determine whether there are any relevant questions of mental health that the panel should be aware of. If so he is, of course, in a position to give an objective professional opinion. The Southwark candidates also have their medical during the weekend.

After everyone has been interviewed the panels meet to discuss their impressions before reporting back to a plenary session on Sunday morning. They then make recommendations which are forwarded to each candidate's bishop. It is of course the bishop who ultimately makes the decision whether or not to accept a candidate as a seminarian for his diocese.

I must say I found the weekend very helpful. I was glad I attended and now appreciate very much more the work of the panel members. When I got back there was a comment on another post about the timetable for admission. I'll do a separate pot in response to that.


Anonymous said...

Are there any more selection conferences for this year or was yours the last one?

Kate said...

You said in an earlier post that five men were seeking ordination, but that one was an Anglican clergyman, for whom procedures are slightly different. Does Southwark still have five seminarians starting in September?

Fr Stephen said...

I'll do a post to answer your question.

Fr Stephen said...

We have five applicants this year. Of them one is a former Anglican clergyman. The other four were at the Selection Conference. I should stress that the final decision about whether to accept any or all of them lies with the Archbishop and has not yet been made. In the meantime please keep them all in your prayers.