Final seminary rites after 130 years … because there are no more PRIESTS

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Final Rites for Seminary After 130 Years … Because There Are No More Trainees PRIESTS: Lack of Prospective Clergy Lead to End of Long-term Institution

  • The Roman Catholic Seminary of St. John in Wonersh, near Guildford, is closing
  • Only five priests will be ordained in the 130-year-old institution this year
  • Rector said scandals and an increasingly secular society are responsible
  • The landmark building and surrounding land are worth millions

The Class of 2021 at St. John’s Roman Catholic Seminary is an exclusive club, with just five numbers.

And they also represent the end of an era – as the 130-year-old institution will close this summer after the student priests run out.

Matthew Donnelly, 51, Paul Nwune, 45, David Hunter, 29, Stephen Corrigan, 29, and Stephen O’Brien, 41, will be the last to be ordained priests.

A further ten junior students will have to continue their studies at the only other two seminars in England.

Pictured LR: Paul Nwune, 45, Stephen Corrigan, 29, Matthew Donnelly, 51, David Hunter, 29, and Stephen O’Brien, 41, will be the last to be ordained priests at St. John’s Roman Catholic Seminary

In 2019 there were only 29 priests in training nationwide, and last year St. John’s in Wonersh, near Guildford, Surrey, did not budge.

In stark contrast, 100 years ago, there were enough seminarians to fill the steps of the grand Victorian building.

Monsignor Gerald Ewing, 66, the rector of St. John’s, said: “It is a very sad moment, but it was not feasible to continue.

“When I trained here in 1973, I was one of 90. I never thought I’d come back to its closure.”

Grade II-listed St John's, who appeared in ITV detective drama Foyle's War, and the surrounding land is worth millions

Grade II-listed St John’s, who appeared in ITV detective drama Foyle’s War, and the surrounding land is worth millions

The loss of seminary is taking place against the backdrop of an increasingly secular world and the fallout from numerous scandals of sexual abuse in the Church.

Mr. Donnelly said, “I think people today need to be brave to be priests, partly because of recent scandals.”

Mr. Hunter added, “We are swimming against the grain in an increasingly secular and materialistic society.”

The landmark St. John’s, which appeared in ITV detective drama Foyle’s War, and the surrounding land is worth millions.

It will be desecrated and will be put up for sale or rent.

In stark contrast to today, there were enough seminarians to fill the steps of the grand Victorian building 100 years ago.  Pictured: Students at St. John's in the 1920s

In stark contrast to today, there were enough seminarians to fill the steps of the grand Victorian building 100 years ago. Pictured: Students at St. John’s in the 1920s

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