Friday, 24 February 2012

BBC4: Catholics (Priests)

Filmed over six months and with extraordinary access, an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait of Allen Hall in London, one of only three remaining Roman Catholic seminaries in Britain.

This is the first of a new three-part series directed by award-winning filmmaker Richard Alwyn about being Catholic in Britain today. Each film - one about men, one about women, one about children - reveals a different Catholic world, showing Catholicism to be a rich but complex identity and observing how this shapes people's lives.

As the Catholic priesthood struggles to recover from the scandal of child abuse, numbers of men applying to join have fallen greatly. Just 19 men were ordained in England and Wales in 2010. In this first film, Alwyn meets the men who still feel themselves called to this role, including funk band roadie turned first-year student, Rob Hunt. A cradle Catholic, Rob ignored his faith for years before deciding his life was veering off course. With little education, he thought he had as much chance of becoming a priest as becoming an astronaut. Today, surrounded by boxsets of The Sweeney, he is adapting to seminary life.

Andrew Gallagher is in his final year at Allen Hall. Now 30, he previously worked in a City law firm, but felt he couldn't ignore a lifelong calling - at school, his nickname was Priest.

The film follows the seminarians through a timetable which ranges from Biblical Greek to lessons on how to live a celibate life. Everything builds towards priestly ordination when the seminarians believe they will be fundamentally altered as human beings, only then able to celebrate the Eucharist and perform the act that is central to Catholic life, the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

'I will give you shepherds after my own heart', said the prophet Jeremiah, stating God's chosen method for guiding His people. This film brings rare and moving insight into those who believe themselves to be God's shepherds in the 21st Century.

Watch on iPlayer:

The reviews of this have been very positive (for example:

Have you watched it? Does it help you understand why some men still choose the Catholic priesthood? What difficulties do these men still face?

The following two episodes cover women and children apparently!

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