Our Men in Formation
“When you serve at the table of the Eucharist, there you will find the presence of Jesus, who gives himself to you so that you can give yourselves to others. In this way, available in life, meek of heart and in constant dialogue with Jesus, you will not be afraid to be servants of Christ, and to encounter and caress the flesh of the Lord in the poor of our time.”
– Pope Francis, to deacons
Becoming a deacon doesn't just involve training or study; it involves candidates being formed - by the grace of God - into an icon of Christ the Servant. For men in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, there is a four year course of part-time study at Oscott seminary, designed to give the knowledge, competencies and skills to serve as a deacon. Besides study, there are practical internships in their own and another parish, to help men to gain the practical, pastoral and liturgical skills that will be needed once ordained.
Andrew is in the second year of the diaconate formation programme. His parish is St. George's, Worcester.
Tony is in his second year of the diaconate programme.
He has particularly been influenced by Saint Antony the Abbot, who "began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Saviour, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor – you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me." - from St. Athanasius' Life of St. Antony
Second year diaconate student Paul is from St. Peter's, Leamington Spa.
Andrej is in his second year of formation. Born in Slovakia, he works as a graphic designer. He is married to Henrietta and has two children of primary school age, David and Abigail. He belongs to St. Mary & St. Egwin’s Parish, Evesham (Worcestershire) and is a committed member of the House of the Open Door Community, a lay community in Childswickham. In his spare time, he enjoys photography and family countryside walks.
Phil, from Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Nuneaton, is in his third year of formation. He has been married to Eileen for 32 happy years and has two grown-up children, Andrew and Clare, who both work and live in London. He was born and raised in Ireland as a cradle Catholic - schooled by nuns, Christian Brothers then Cistercian boarding school. He came to the UK in 1987 ‘for a 12-month stint…’ and works in procurement and supply-chain in the automotive industry. His interests are music (he has played the church organ for many years) and he is a passionate rugby supporter.
He had felt a 'tug' to the life of the Church for some years, and as he became increasingly involved in his parish, his calling to the diaconate took shape.
Since beginning formation programme, he has stopped being embarrassed at how little he knows; instead he is delighting in learning.
Jonasz is in his third year of the diaconate programme. His parish is St. Teresa's, Perry Barr, in north Birmingham.
Martin is a fourth-year candidate who works as a physics teacher at Archbishop Ilsley Catholic Secondary in Acocks Green. He is married to Sam, and has two young children, Teresa and Francis. He grew up in Nottingham, moved to Birmingham to go to university, and then got a job and stayed. He is a parishioner at St. Dunstan’s, Kings Heath. His faith-related interests are the liturgy, Church music and ecclesiastical history, and his other pastimes include reading, Lego, physics and computer games.
Andy is married to Kate and lives in North Warwickshire with their dog Rose. For many years, he’s been a part of the parish of St. John Vianney, Coventry. He’s currently in the fourth year of formation. For the last twenty years, his full-time occupation has been as a funeral director.
One of the most poignant moments of formation for Andrew has been receiving candidacy at a Mass celebrated by Bishop David McGough - the moment when the bishop accepted his pledge to continue in my studies with eyes firmly set on the end goal of serving the Church. He’s also had some wonderful experiences of visiting the sick (both at home and in the hospitals)and the elderly. It has been a delight for him to go out and spread the Gospel and take the Blessed Sacrament as communion to those unable to come to church.