One question that I get asked a lot concerning Old College is: “How many people are in Old College?” The answer to that question would be something like this: “Well, there are ten people living in the house right now but eleven in the program. The other one’s studying abroad right now.”
Last semester, I was that other person. I spent the last semester in London on a study abroad experience. This study abroad experience, however, was a little different from what other Notre Dame students experience while studying in London, because I stayed at the seminary for the Archdiocese of Westminster, Allen Hall, and I took my classes at Heythrop College, a Jesuit university part of the University of London system.
It was a wonderful experience being in London and staying at a diocesan seminary, because I was able to continue my discernment of Holy Cross in a different setting. However, that didn’t mean that the life and formation process at Allen Hall were foreign to me. On the contrary, it was very similar to Old College. There’s common prayer, Adoration, daily Mass, formation meetings, spiritual conferences, and retreats. The similarity to Old College was one of the great things about being at Allen Hall for the semester. There really wasn’t that much that was different, which I think is a reflection of the catholicity of the Catholic Church. We are pretty much the same anywhere.
There are about 25 other seminarians who live full time at Allen Hall and about another 25 who come in for classes. They come from all parts of the world. Among the about 50 seminarians who are connected with Allen Hall, there are seminarians from Australia, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Nigeria, Columbia, Italy, every part of the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was great meeting other guys who are walking along the same path of discerning the priesthood and seeing that we have a lot in common.
Also, I didn’t limit my time aboard to just London. Being in Europe gave me the opportunity to visit Holy Cross in other parts of Europe. I saw the work of Holy Cross in France at two different schools and in Rome at the Generalate. Seeing Holy Cross in different settings was very good, because although the surroundings were different, the mission was still the same. Holy Cross was there to educate the heart, mind, and soul.
After all is said and done, what I am left with after my time aboard is a greater understanding of myself and a new outlook in my discernment of Holy Cross. I am heartened that Holy Cross is the same family throughout the world.
Vincent Nguyen is in his third year of formation at Old College Undergraduate Seminary on the Campus of Notre Dame. He is studying at Notre Dame where he is pursuing a degree in Economics and Philosophy. He and his fellow Old Collegians write posts for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation in Old College. Learn more about seminary life in Holy Cross, and specifically Old College Undergraduate Seminary. And meet the current Old Collegians who are in formation for priesthood and religious life in Holy Cross.