PETER ROSS reflects on his year at St Alban’s…
At Madrid airport on September 14 2017, I and several other men from around the globe began a year-long journey together. I knew for certain that this journey was to be different than to any other I had previously experienced.
On that day and prior to it, I had a vague idea of what the ensuing year would look like, with all sorts of buzzwords like ‘development’ and ‘growth’ and ‘community’ flying around in my head. But the reality, as always, was completely different.
A big shock for me was how generous and welcoming people are in Valladolid, particularly the College domestic staff and the Spanish friends of the College.
They are all wonderful, welcoming, loving and understanding. From the moment we arrived they made every effort to make us, a bunch of complete strangers, feel like family.
The high point of the year for me was, of course, Holy Week. You can watch as many videos and read as many books as you like, but nothing truly compares to being there yourself.
The pinnacle of our Holy Week activities was our own procession with Our Lady Vulnerata, during which I had the honour of carrying Our Lady in and out of the College with other seminarians. This experience was truly awesome.
However, the year was not without its challenges. Before Valladolid I was at Derby University completing a degree in Applied Youth and Community Development.
I finished my course in June, enjoyed the summer break and then arrived in Valladolid in September, a really quick turnaround! At first, the big challenge was getting over homesickness.
After having lived away from home already for three years, I didn’t expect this at all, but with the support of the staff and other seminarians, I managed to get over it.
Another challenge was living in community, which I thought would be a breeze but again I was proved wrong. Community living requires attentiveness, consideration, maturity and a Eucharistic heart centered on the love of the Trinity.
I had an amazing year in Valladolid and was truly sad to leave, but I left with the knowledge that I had been enriched by so many people in so many ways. Moving forward, I’ll take with me my love of the culture and memories of the amazing places we visited but, above all, the year gave me the chance to grow in relationship with Jesus.