The process of formation for the priesthood normally takes six years, during which time the seminarians live in a community of formation built around prayer and study. The spacious buildings and grounds at Oscott provide an environment suited to this, while at the same time being located very near to the city of Birmingham, presenting plenty of opportunities for pastoral experience for those in formation.
In 1992, Pope St John Paul II published a document on seminary formation, entitled Pastores Dabo Vobis ('I will give you shepherds'). In this document, the Pope defined four areas of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. While each of these are independent 'strands' of formation, they share the one purpose of forming each man who enters the seminary into a priest, whose heart must be conformed ever more closely to that of Jesus Christ. For more information on these 'strands' of formation, click on the relevant titles above.
The intellectual programme comprises two years of formation in philosophy, followed by four years of theology. The first three years of the academic programme are validated by the University of Birmingham as a BA in Fundamental Catholic Theology. In the final three years, the seminarians work towards a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB) from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, within which seminarians in their final year present a 12,000-word paper on a theological subject of their choice.
The seminarians also work towards various ministries suited to their priestly vocation during their time at Oscott. During the first three years they receive the ministries of Lector and Acolyte, in preparation for an extended pastoral placement in their home diocese in the fourth year. After returning to Oscott to continue the studies, seminarians are assessed at the end of their fourth year to be accepted as Candidates for Diaconate and Priesthood.
Ordination to the Diaconate takes place in St Mary's Chapel at the end of the fifth year, and then each man will be ordained priest in his home diocese at the end of the sixth year.
Full details about the guidelines of formation and assessment are
described in the following document, entitled Life at Oscott.