St Stephen’s House is a residential theological college in which candidates for ordination live a shared life of study, prayer and pastoral work. The intention of our life together is to prepare candidates for the work of the priesthood: as preachers and teachers; as people of prayer and devotion; as faithful ministers of the sacraments and shepherds of those entrusted to their pastoral care. To do this, candidates need to spend time considering three questions: Who is Jesus Christ? What is the Church? What is a priest?
Who is Jesus Christ? All theological study has as its end the doctrine of God, and the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Candidates at the college undertake various academic pathways depending on their aptitudes and ways of learning, but together we seek to deepen our knowledge of God, and to come to know and love His Son better. This takes place in the study, in the library, in the chapel, and in the person of our neighbour: in all these places we look to come close to the One who calls us.
What is the Church? Priests are called to be faithful people of the Church, loyal to the commitments they make in their ordination promises and always conscious that they speak not on their own behalf but on behalf of the Church that sends them. We seek to be people of the Church, not uncritically but deeply, confident that in the pastoral tasks we undertake on placements and in our local setting, we are learning to preach the Good News and administer the sacraments of the New Covenant with reverence and conviction.
What is a priest? The demands on the ministerial priesthood are many and complex, particularly as the Church has to adjust her mission to the radically new pastoral and evangelistic settings in which Christians now live. Priests need to be confident in their identity and role, not because of an outdated clericalism, but because they are called to be shepherds and teachers of God’s people. Our formation is intended to give to our candidates that confidence under God, through the demands of a rigorous common life that helps them be ready to share in the priesthood that takes its name from Jesus Christ.