Msgr. Philip Whitmore will succeed Msgr. Nicholas Hudson as Rector of the Venerable English College (VEC), a Rome-based seminary for the dioceses of England and Wales.
Msgr. Whitmore, Archdiocese of Westminster, currently works at the Secretariat of State for the Holy See in Rome. Msgr. Hudson, Archdiocese of Southwark, who has been Rector of the VEC since 2004, has been appointed parish priest of Sacred Heart in Wimbledon by Archbishop Peter Smith.
Making the announcement, Archbishop Bernard Longley, chairman of the Committee for Overseas Seminaries for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, thanked Msgr. Hudson for his service as Rector and asked for both Msgr. Hudson and Msgr. Whitmore to be kept in our prayers over the coming days. The handover will take place next August.
Msgr. Hudson was appointed Rector of the VEC in 2004 after four years as Vice-Rector. In that time the Seminary has increased the number of seminarians from 21 in 2004 to 43 at the start of this year. During this time he welcomed dignitaries from England and Wales for two conclaves, the funeral and beatification of Pope John Paul II and several visits by Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury. The rector has also seen huge refurbishment of both the College, the most significant of which has been the complete restoration of the College Church, and Palazzola, the retreat house opposite Castel Gandolfo. His final year saw the celebration of the 650th anniversary of the English and Welsh Hospice, including a colloquium co-hosted with the British Embassy to the Holy See. The climax to these celebrations came with the College being received in private audience by Pope Benedict XVI on 3 December 2012.
“I feel enormously privileged to be asked to be pastor of my home parish after 13 years’ ministry at the Venerable English College,” said Msgr. Hudson about his new appointment.
“Preparing men for parish life has been deeply affirming of my own priesthood. I will always be grateful for the experience of leading such a house of formation: I found the seminarians there to be of the highest caliber. When we were received in private audience by Pope Benedict, I told the Holy Father that these men gave me great hope for the future of the Church.
“I marvel that I should be sent back to the parish where I first felt called as they do – to try to be a priest for the people of Wimbledon. It was my parents and brothers, the priests and parishioners of the Sacred Heart Parish together who gave me the faith which led me to offer myself to train for the priesthood. I was Baptized, Confirmed and Ordained in this church; and made my first Confession and First Holy Communion in the schools alongside it. After 11 years’ Jesuit schooling and six years at the Gregorian University I have a huge respect for the Jesuits’ parochial and educational apostolate. I will work with the people of the Sacred Heart parish to build on all that has been achieved in Wimbledon these past 135 years.”
The seminary at the Venerable English College was founded in 1579 and there has been an English presence on the site in Via di Monserrato since the establishment of the Hospice of St Thomas in 1362, making it the oldest English institution outside England.
The College has been known as the Venerable English College since 1818 because of the 44 students who were martyred for the Catholic faith between 1581 and 1679, as well as the 130 who suffered imprisonment and exile. Since their deaths, 41 have been canonized or beatified by the Church, including the College’s protomartyr St. Ralph Sherwin, who was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on December 1, 1581.