How to be a good priest in England


24 September 2007

A new course specifically for foreign priests wishing to serve the Catholic Church in England and Wales has just started at the northern seminary of Ushaw in Durham. The three week induction programme, endorsed and recommended by the bishops of England and Wales, aims to provide the priests with practical advice and information that will enable them to integrate into UK life and make effective use of their pastoral skills in an alien culture.

As well as input on the cultural and historical context of the English Catholic Church, students will get the opportunity to experience life in a parish; meeting with parishioners and joining in liturgical celebrations. The course will seek to dispel unhelpful notions of Britishness, such as maids cycling across village greens, warm beer and drinking tea to address questions of contemporary cultural identity and complex social issues in a modern liberal democracy. The aim will be to give the visiting priests a practical understanding of what life is like for priests ministering in the UK’s diverse and changing society.

Students will look at issues affecting the Church in England and Wales in the third millennium – power, authority, the role of women, lay/diaconal ministry, ecumenism and much more. This is important preparation for future pastoral work and liturgical celebrations.

Top-up English classes will also be available, but students will need to have achieved a certain level of proficiency in spoken and written before enrolment. This year’s course has attracted students from Eastern Europe, India and Africa.

The Rector of Ushaw Seminary, Fr Terry Drainey said:

“Having spent 18 years of my adult life living and working in Spain and Kenya, I have been immensely grateful to all those who helped me become aware of the rich differences of other societies and cultures. This is especially true in the sensitive area of pastoral care and ministry.”

Fr John Dale, National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies added:

“There has always been an exchange of clergy between countries; this year we celebrate 50 years of Fidei Donum – priests from these islands sharing their ministry in Africa and Latin America. This exciting new course will help clergy become confident and effective pastors in England and Wales. In turn, we will be reminded that we belong to a universal Church which is alive and full of hope.”


For further information, please contact the CCN, t. 020 7901 4800 e.


Induction Programme At Ushaw College

To run from Sunday 23rd September 2007 – Monday 15th October

It is presumed that participants will have a reasonable facility in written and spoken English.

It would consist of three elements:

A continuous programme to

  • assist transitions into a new phase/situation
  • facilitate cultural adjustment (explore experience of Europeans/British/other nationals not from their own country, before coming to this country; recognise the generational differences in their own culture)
  • enable group processing – focusing on the participants’ experience
  • Assistance with spoken and written English

Input on

  • Liturgical practice and sensitivity to the present culture focussing on Eucharist and Reconciliation.
  • Historical background to the Church in these islands
  • An overview of some of the more sensitive social issues
    • Sex and gender, including HIV/AIDS awareness, homosexuality.
    • Domestic violence, divorce, single parenthood
    • Priesthood, power, and authority in the Church, other ministries - lay and diaconal, the role of women in Church and society, ecumenism.
    • Mental health issues, grief and loss.
    • Role of meals, food, hospitality and etiquette
  • Homiletics

Practical experience of

  • Liturgical celebrations (best practice) – a “go-and-see” approach, sitting in the congregation.
    Meeting with parishioners from these parishes to hear what they are feeling about some of the above issues and their experience of Church in general and to interact with them.
    • The variety of pastoral situations in a priest’s daily life (accompanying our students on some of their pastoral placements)