by a Special Correspondent THE APPOINTMENT of a new Rector for St John's Seminary, Wonersh, Surrey, announced this week, may well be the first move in a reorganisation of seminary training in the South of England.
It is believed that plans for close co-operation and possibly even a merger between Allen Hall, Westminster's diocesan seminary, and St John's, which serves the diocese of Southwark and Arundel and Brighton, have been under discussion for some time.
Allen Hall moved from St Edmund's College, Ware, Hertfordshire, to its present Central London premises in 1974. These premises, in Chelsea, although convenient for seminarians taking university degrees and for pastoral work in the inner city, pose severe overcrowding problems.
The seminary does not even have a lecture hall which can accommodate all its students. St John's, on the other hand, has spacious premises in the
country, and despite the fact that it accepts students from a number of dioceses including Portsmouth, Brentwood and Menevia, has experienced a decline in numbers and at present has only about 60 students.
Westminster, on the other hand, has about 40 students and its numbers are increasing. Southwark and Arundel and Brighton have recently spent £200,000 in repairs to St John's, while Allen Hall has recently been negotiating with the Westminster bishops for funds to adapt its large chapel into a lecture theatre and a flexible space to be used for training students in the celebration of modern English liturgy.
A merger between the two seminaries would provide St John's students with a London base for pastoral work and the
Allen Hall students with a country retreat. The idea of a merger was first discussed when the late Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy was Archbishop of Southwark, but no action was taken. It is not known
what stage the present discussions have reached.
Fr Christopher Budd, who is to succeed Mgr James McConnon as rector of St John's, will take up his appointment next Easter. Mgr McConnon is to take up the post of Episcopal Vicar for Marriage and Family Life in the Arundel and Brighton diocese.
Fr Budd is at present head of training of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council. Born in Essex in 1937, Fr Budd was educated at Hornchurch, Chcrtsey and Cotton College, Birmingham, before studying for the priesthood at the English College, Rome, from 1956 to 1962.
He taught theology at the English College until 1971 and then lectured on the same subject at Newman College, Birmingham, for the next two years.