For the first time since 2019, the College this year was able to host seminarians for the full six months of our regular Propaedeutic Course. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 cohort had to go home, completing their course online over those remaining months (see here) while in 2021, travel restrictions were reimposed by Spain because of the “delta-variant” which was emerging in the U.K. in late 2020, meaning that our group was unable to come to Spain until the end of May 2021. Both years, therefore, had to make do with a large part of their work online.
A joy, therefore, to be able to host this year’s group for the full six months – Covid protocols all being observed throughout. We began with six seminarians, two from the Archdiocese of Glasgow, three from the Diocese of Motherwell and one from the Diocese of Raphoe (in Donegal) in Ireland. One student decided to return home early on, however, leaving us with five for the majority of the time.
There were a few “hiccups” along the way, such as the occasional positive test for Covid among the seminarians and staff, both resident and visiting (all with isolation protocols in place), but in the main the calendar and course content was delivered as planned.
In addition, the two seminarians from the Archdiocese of Glasgow together with Fr Tom, the Rector (who is a priest of the Archdiocese), returned home for the Installation Mass of Archbishop Bill Nolan as the new archbishop of Glasgow in late February, the Salmantinos joining other Glasgow seminarians in serving that Mass. Then, just before Holy Week, we were joined by the community of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, who passed a few days on retreat and then shared together in the celebration of the Sacred Triduum. They also took advantage of the time in Salamanca to experience the “Semana Santa” processions each evening in Holy Week and particularly throughout Good Friday (the first leaving the Dominican church of San Esteban at 5.00am). See below for some pictures.
The course included most of the usual topics – Spirituality, Sacred Scripture, Christology, Ecclesiology and aspects of Moral teaching and faith – together with training in Safeguarding and insights in human development and formation. In addition, the group had trips to Ávila, Segovia (see the picture above), Valladolid, where we visited the Royal English College, and the monastery of El Escorial, to explore something of Spanish culture and history. The seminarians, however, were also keen to make use of free time to explore further afield as well, making it to Toledo, León, Fatima and Madrid among other places.
Overall, it was good to be able to return to something of a normality after the years of disruption and uncertainty. We keep these young men in our prayers as they go on to new things, take the next steps in their journeys of formation and discernment, that they continue to be open to God’s will for them and for their vocations in the Church.