New Spiritual Director Appointed to Rome

New Spiritual Director Appointed to Rome

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The Bishops of Scotland have announced that Mgr Thomas Millar, the Vicar General of Motherwell Diocese, has been appointed as Spiritual Director of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Mgr Millar, who was ordained in 1978, is currently Administrator of the Cathedral in Motherwell, will leave the Cathedral in January in order to prepare for his new work which will begin fully in the College year beginning in September 2017.

Priests for Scotland wishes him well in his new appointment, and gives thanks for the past six years of service by Fr Mark Cassidy, the current Spiritual Director in the College.  Fr Cassidy will return to an appointment in his home diocese of Dunkeld.


Click here for the Motherwell Diocesan website news blog.

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Propaedeutic Seminary Course

Propaedeutic Seminary Course

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What does "propaedeutic" mean?

In short, "propaedeutic" is a technical word in the Church for "preparatory".  However, we don't simply use the word "Preparatory" as that might suggest that such a course is not really part of formation for priesthood, or is somehow not that important.  Rather, we want to suggest that those who are undertaking this course while, certainly, "preparing" for the full seminary course of philosophy and theology studies which lies ahead, are at the same time already engaged in formation for priesthood.  It is an "Initial" stage of seminary life and training for priesthood, although it might also be a preparation for the full formation programme which will begin afterwards.

Following the injunction of Pope Saint John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis that “there be a sufficient period of preparation prior to Seminary formation” (PDV, 1991, #62) many countries around the world made provision for such a period of initial preparation for students for the priesthood before they enter the full rigours of philosophical and theological studies in the major seminary.  From 2010, under the auspices of “Priests for Scotland”, the Bishops of Scotland provided a brief period of between three and five weeks in late August and early September for students who were about to head off to seminary. This took place each summer at the Royal Scots College in Salamanca.

So what is a "Propaedeutic Course"?

A propaedeutic course is intended to provide candidates for the Priesthood with aspects of spiritual and human formation for priesthood within a community setting. It is intended to help them explore their faith, deepen their relationship with Christ and reflect on what a vocation to be a priest means for them, so that they can be all the better prepared to enter into the academic and formational programme provided by the major seminary. It offers an Initial Formation, aimed at equipping them with a deeper understanding of priesthood, of the Church they seek to serve, of prayer, and of the various dimensions and themes which unite in the seminary formation which lies ahead of them. As a programme of formation, what is offered aims to provide as broadly-based and comprehensive a catechetical curriculum as possible, looking at the major aspects of any Christian formation (see the General Directory for Catechesis, #85-86):

  • Knowledge of the Faith,
  • Formation in prayer,
  • Preparation for and reflection on sacramental life
  • Formation in moral life
  • Formation for community living
  • Preparation for mission, keeping in mind the Church’s project of a New Evangelization

The opportunity offered to seminarians through a propaedeutic period, to deepen their faith and develop a more intimate relationship with the Lord, only makes sense in a community context. This is, in part due to what Pastores Dabo Vobis notes as the essential feature of discipleship as we find it in the Gospels: “To be with him”. That is: to join with others in company with the Lord, in order to learn from Him and become more like Him. It is also due to the fact that diocesan priesthood, which is the ultimate goal of this formation, is characterised above all by a life of service to the Christian community, and is rooted in a spirituality of service to that community. To help develop that spirituality and to express it most fully, Pastores Dabo Vobis (#31) says that all priestly formation should be placed in the context of - and be inspired by - an “essential and undeniable ecclesial dimension” of priesthood.  Even if our priests might work in "one-man-parishes", it is essential that they have developed a strong sense that they are not "lone workers", but rather servants of a community, either the local parish or parishes where they work, or the wider Church itself of which they are representatives, witnesses and servants.

“It is a good thing that there be a period of human, Christian, intellectual and spiritual preparation for the candidates to the Major Seminary. These candidates should, however, have certain qualities: right intention, a sufficient degree of human maturity, a sufficiently broad knowledge of the doctrine of the faith, some introduction into the methods of prayer, and behaviour in conformity with Christian tradition.” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 62)

In practice, Initial Seminary Formation - our name for the "Propaedeutic Period" - aims to support the development of the student’s personal life of faith through:

  • opportunities to deepen their personal life of prayer;
  • an introduction to Sacred Scripture as the Living Word of God;
  • an introduction to the Liturgy and the Paschal Mystery;
  • reflection on the person of Christ and the mystery of the Church;
  • regular spiritual direction and opportunities such as days of recollection;
  • lived experience of the communitarian dimension of the Christian (and priestly) vocation.

As Pastores Dabo Vobis suggests, spiritual formation also requires an authentic and balanced human formation: “It is important that the priest should mould his personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ” (PDV, #43).

In this regard, seminarians who are engaged in this initial stage of formation will be encouraged to:

  • take responsibility for aspects of the shared life of the community;
  • participate fully in the community’s life, spiritually, liturgically, socially and materially;
  • generously place his talents and experience at the service of others;
  • conscientiously follow the Rule of Life laid out by College staff on behalf of the Bishops;
  • humbly and prudently reflect on his experiences, his relationships and his vocational sense as the period unfolds, so as to share a self-evaluation of his progress.


How does this all happen for those training to be priests in Scotland?Scots College Salamanca cloister

From January 2016, seminarians beginning their training for priesthood in the dioceses of Scotland head to the Royal Scots College in Salamanca. Founded in 1627 to train young men to serve as priests in Scotland, the College takes on the role of beginning this process for all our seminarians.

Courses undertaken include:

  • Spirituality - exploring prayer, traditions of prayer, prayer practices and the devotional life;
  • Liturgy (both the Mass and the Prayer of the Church, or "Divine Office") and the Sacraments;
  • Introductions to Scripture - the Gospels, the Old Testament and in particular the Psalms;
  • the person of Jesus: how we understand what the Scriptures and the Church says about him, what we believe about him and how we form a relationship with Him;
  • the Church and how we understand it, sense our belonging to it, and recognise its "marks" as one, holy, catholic and apostolic;
  • Church history, especially the story of the Church in Scotland;
  • the nature of faith, the Creed and how we express and understand our faith;
  • Evangelisation, Mission and the call to witness to our faith;
  • aspects of our lived faith: Catholic Social Doctrine and moral thinking

In addition, there are courses and reflections on human development, our human capacities, relationships and personal growth as well as a variety of pastoral themes and opportunities to meet and hear from priests engaged in ministry in a variety of contexts, or with various responsibilities, to give insights into what diocesan priesthood can  look like.


As well as all this, however, there are many valuable opportunities offered by living for these months in Spain, and especially in that part of the country which has been home to saints and scholars over the centuries: St Teresa of Ávila, St John of the Cross, St Ignatius Loyola, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (the Dominican "Father of Human Rights"), Miguel de Cervantes (author of "Don Quixote") and many others.  Included in the course, therefore, are excursions to places of interest both in the spiritual life and in cultural life more widely.


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The Pontifical Scots College, Rome

The Pontifical Scots College, Rome

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The Pontifical Scots College, Rome was founded on 5th December 1600 by Pope Clement VIII. It provided an education for young Scots Catholic men who, due to the laws against Catholics, could not receive a Catholic education at home. During the centuries that followed, the college sent a steady supply of priests to Scotland, being closed only when the French invaded Rome in 1798 and again during the Second World War. For two hundred years Jesuits and Italian secular clergy directed the College, but since 1800 the Rectors have all been Scots secular priests.

At first the college was sited in a little house in what is known today as Via del Tritone, opposite the church of S. Maria in Costantinopoli. In 1604 it was transferred to Via Felice, now called Via delle Quattro Fontane, and there it remained till 1962. The Church of St. Andrew of the Scots was built beside the college and, although no longer in the possession of the college, Mass is still regularly celebrated there. The present college building on the Via Cassia was opened in 1964 by Pope Paul VI and has since been visited by Pope John Paul II.

As well as a house for students for the priesthood, the Scots College has been a temporary home for many other Scots, such as the Bishops during the Second Vatican Council and other meetings, the several groups of priests who have taken part in theology refresher courses and, more recently, groups of pilgrims who come during the summer vacation. It has been at the centre of celebrations for the creation of three Scots Cardinals, Cardinal Gray, Cardinal Winning and Cardinal O'Brien, and it was visited by many pilgrims who came from Scotland for the Canonisation of St John Ogilvie.  It also frequently hosts groups of pilgrims from Scotland staying in the city for major events or Holy Years, such as the Jubilee of 2000, the Year of Faith in 2012-2013 and the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2015-2016.

This year there are around twenty students currently studying in the College in Rome, of the roughly thirty-five studying for the dioceses of Scotland in total.


Twitter: @ScotsCollegeIT


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What Should I Expect From Seminary?

What Should I Expect From Seminary?

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'The broad aim of seminary formation is to provide a suitable context for vocational discernment and growth and to enable candidiates to become priests who are, "true shepherds of souls after the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest and shepherd". '

Norms for Priestly Formation~The Bishops' Conference of Scotland, 6.1

Seminary formation is organised around four principal areas of formation as laid out in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis ~ Human Formation, Spiritual Formation, Academic Formation and Pastoral Formation. The link below takes you to the 'Daily Life' section of the Pontifical Scots College website which details the content of these areas of formation further.



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First Steps

First Steps

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For most men who apply to become priests the attraction to ordained ministry will have been with them for some time. Perhaps they have been slow to reveal this thought to anyone else and have mulled it over quietly in their own mind...


So where do I start?  Well, the first step in exploring this feeling is to pray; listen to God’s Spirit in the depth of your heart.  There, in the quiet you will at the very least find the courage to take the next step.  You might, in fact, find a deeper sense of the call God has for you...

When you feel the time is right, you might wish to talk about your experience or your thoughts with your parish priest, or a priest you know, perhaps a spiritual director, or a chaplain you know from school, university or college.  They will guide you, help you talk out your thoughts - and perhaps your hesitations - and point you in the direction of your Diocesan Vocations Director (click for more).

The Diocesan Vocations Director will help you learn more about what a vocation to priesthood entails, how men are trained for diocesan priesthood, and will support you through a process of discerning just what is right for you, and how to proceed...

In some Dioceses, there may be opportunities offered to meet with like-minded men who are also thinking about priesthood as an option for them and discerning whether God might be calling them to serve him and the Church in this way.  Going along to these events or meetings doesn't mean you have to sign up, of course, but it can be a supportive way of exploring your thoughts and prayers with others going through the same process.
You may, of course, contact the Priest for Scotland office directly.

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Diocesan Vocations Directors

Diocesan Vocations Directors

With 0 Comments, Category: Discerning Priesthood, Featured, Preparing for Seminary, Vocations,

Each diocese in Scotland has a nominated priest whose role is to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood within each diocese.

In addition, the Diocesan Vocations Director is responsible for helping a potential candidate for priesthood discern their vocation, and, if both feel ready, when the time is right, to suggest that the candidate begin the formal process of application for studies for priesthood

Below are the contact details for the Diocesan Vocations Directors from around Scotland:

Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Rev. Michael John Galbraith
St James'
17 The Scores
KY16 9AR
01334 472856

Diocese of Aberdeen

Rev. Keith Herrera
Cathedral Clergy House
20 Huntly Street
AB10 1SH
01224 640 160

Diocese of Argyll and The Isles

Rev. Michael Hutson
St. Andrew's
Columshill Street
PA20 0HX
01700 502 047

Diocese of Dunkeld

Father Michael Carrie
9 Muirnwood Place
Monifieth DD5 4JL
01382 539476       Dunkeld Vocations Website

Diocese of Galloway

Rev. William Boyd
St. Mary's
15 West Rd
KA12 8RE
01294 279 130

Archdiocese of Glasgow
Rev. Ross Campbell
Turnbull Hall
15 Southpark Terrace
G12 8LG
0141 339 4315                  Archdiocese of Glasgow Vocations Facebook Page

Diocese of Motherwell

Rev. Brian Lamb
St Joseph's
Mayberry Place
South Lanarkshire
G72 9DA
01698 823896                   Motherwell Diocesan Website Vocations Page


Diocese of Paisley
Rev. John H. Morrison
St. Patrick's
5 Orangefield Place
118 Brediland Road
01505 813103            Read the Paisley Diocese Vocations Newsletter for 2016


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Applying to Study for Priesthood in Scotland

Applying to Study for Priesthood in Scotland

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What is the Process for Application to Seminary in Scotland?

The Process for Application to Seminary in Scotland (sometimes shortened to PASS) is based round a series of weekend retreats and scheduled meetings that begin the journey to seminary for applicants who wish to enter into priestly formation for priesthood in the dioceses of Scotland. There are at present three weekends in total, the emphasis of which throughout is prayer and discernment as the applicant is invited to consider the Lord’s call to service in his Church.  Normally, these will have been preceded by meetings with a Diocesan Vocations Director, who will assist an aspiring applicant in discerning whether or not the time is right to make a formal application and so begin the process.

How are these weekends arranged?

PASS weekends normally begin on a Friday evening around 6pm. The atmosphere at these weekends is normally one of recollected quiet since there is the need not only to spend time in prayer but also to allow God’s Spirit to be heard. The weekends are also about meeting like-minded individuals who are also thinking about a possible vocation to priesthood and are considering entering seminary. Thus, an important part of the weekends is the time spent socialising with fellow applicants. Applicants in the past have also been grateful for the opportunity to engage with a number of priests each of whom brings his own understanding and approach to priesthood. This is particularly the case with weekend four and it is hoped that as the process reaches its conclusion applicants will have a better understanding of themselves, of God, and of priestly ministry.

The weekends are arranged as detailed below. Each weekend involves some themed reflection, based on the key notions of getting to know God, getting to know oneself and getting to know the Church. There are discussion points, guided reflection offered by various serving priests, time for personal prayer and opportunities to meet on a one-to-one basis with Vocations Directors and others.

It is expected that all applicants attend all of these events, that they arrive in good time for all events and do not arrange to leave until the weekend is finished, (this is normally around 2pm on the Sunday afternoon). Applicants who might wish to attend these weekends must first make contact with their Diocesan Vocations Director (click here for more) who will decide whether to invite the applicant to take part in the process.

Who else is involved?

Along with your Diocesan Vocations Director you will normally be assigned a Spiritual Director. Both of these have a very specific role within the Seminary Application process. Your Diocesan Vocations Director should be your first contact regarding your progress through the application process. Your Vocations Director should be available to help you with the whole process, including the application form, the various elements of paperwork that need to be gathered (e.g. Baptismal certificates, references, PVG certificates, etc) and the tasks that need to be carried out. Your Spiritual Director has a different focus since the core of your discussion with your Spiritual Direction is your relationship with God. Matters shared with your Spiritual Director remain within that forum and the Spiritual Director has no other involvement within the application process.

During the second of the weekends, there will be time allocated to meet with an interview panel.  This is not a group who will decide whether or not you will be accepted for seminary (that decision is rightfully your bishop's decision to take), but rather will help to explore deeper how you are placed to enter into the various aspects of priestly formation - encompassing the spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral dimensions the Church lays out. The interview group will present a report to your bishop to help him in his decision, along with your referees and Vocations Director, and to help you reflect on those areas which might require more focus once you move into the Seminary and priestly formation itself.

The Director of Priests for Scotland is responsible for having a general oversight of the process. He is responsible for presenting each bishop with a recommendation, based on what has been gleaned through the Process, regarding the suitability of an applicant to begin training to become a diocesan priest. The Process is, therefore, centred on the individual applicant but must also be mindful of the Church’s need for able priests. In other words, it is not only the applicant who is discerning whether or not he has a call to be a priest: the Church also has to assist in validating whether that vocation is authentic, properly motivated and freely chosen, and whether the individual has the potential to be able to serve the wider Church community as a priest.

So, if I think I might be called to be a priest, when do I start?

The whole Process, from discernment to entry into seminary runs from early in the year until December; the formal Application Process itself, with the associated weekend encounters, runs from September to December. Its purpose is to assist prospective candidates in discerning their future and to prepare them, after suitable assessment, for entry into the seminary process.  Anyone thinking about applying should do so some time before the summer, to allow time for those early discussions to take place, and for the Diocesan Vocations Director to be able to advise on the best way forward, including entering the Application Process.

On successfully completing the Application Process in the autumn months, and being accepted for seminary formation (normally towards the end of the year), applicants will head to the Royal Scots College in Salamanca, Spain, to begin their seminary formation with a "propaedeutic", or "Initial Seminary Formation" course which runs from January to June each year. Thereafter, the Bishop will decide where the training should take place - normally at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, but sometimes in other seminaries, perhaps in Rome or in England.
Further details can be obtained from the Diocesan Director of Priestly Vocations.

Each weekend begins with arrivals at 6.00pm. Applicants should speak to their Diocesan Director of Priestly Vocations before attending.

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