College Staff

Formation Staff

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Canon Paul Charles Farrer STB

Rector and Director of Human Development

Canon Paul was ordained priest for the Diocese of Middlesbrough in 1994, having studied in Valladolid. Work as a parish priest in four parishes gives him a wealth of pastoral experience. He also has five years' experience as a hospital chaplain and was diocesan youth chaplain for 17 years. Canon Paul sat on the Bishop's Councils for Liturgy, Education and Safeguarding, was director of the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage for eight years and has been diocesan vocation director. Nationally, he was a board member of CYMFed (Catholic Youth Ministry Federation) and the National Office for Vocation, helping produce a wide range of catechetical resources. He joined the college staff as vice-rector in September 2016 and succeeded Monsignor John Pardo as rector in September 2017.

Father Christopher J Willis STL

Spiritual Director and Director of Spiritual Development

Father Chris was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and studied for the priesthood at Ushaw College in Durham before ministering in parishes in the Diocese of Leeds. After his silver jubilee he was sent to study for a license in Spiritual Theology at the Angelicum University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He served as spiritual director at the Venerable English College, Rome, for four years and was appointed to the Royal English College staff in September 2015.

Stephen McCoy


Educational Psychologist

An educational psychologist registered with the Health Care Professions Council, Steve worked as a teacher for five years and an educational psychologist throughout Lancashire for 32 years. As a senior educational psychologist he managed a team of educational psychologists supporting and supervising fellow educational psychologists and doctoral students. He has extensive experience in assessment and intervention with learners across the age range who experience special educational needs. He has led formal and informal training with educators on a variety of topics including supporting students presenting both literacy and numeracy difficulties, promoting emotional intelligence, supporting students with an autistic spectrum condition, understanding and managing emotional responses to critical incidents and implementing positive behaviour management strategies. Stephen is married to Anne and they have three sons and are involved in marriage preparation in their parish. Stephen is a group leader with Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT). Supported by Anne, he has formed and led groups of volunteer helpers and delivered training to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people with additional needs who accompany them on HCPT pilgrimages to Lourdes.

Sister Patricia Grady ODN

Pastoral Director

Sister Patricia was born in Hamilton, Scotland, where she grew up with her sister and two brothers in a loving Catholic family. She entered the Company of Mary Our Lady in Cobham, Surrey, where she began her religious formation. After final profession and completing her teacher training she spent time teaching Food Technology and Theology at schools in London, Dublin and Glasgow. After four years in Logroño, La Rioja, Patricia returned to Notre Dame, Cobham, as school chaplain. In September 2015 she began a new phase of her work here in Valladolid.

Rev Dr Gerard Fieldhouse-Byrne BA (Hons), STB, MA, MSW, DMin, MBACP (accred)

Human Development Advisor

Father Gerard is a priest of the Diocese of Salford. After completing undergraduate studies in England, Father Gerard studied for the priesthood at the Venerable English College, Rome, and was ordained in July 1998. He has a Masters in Spirituality from the Angelicum University in Rome and a Masters in Clinical Social Work and a Doctorate in Counselling from Boston University, USA. After completing his doctorate in Boston he spent two years on the staff at the Saint Luke Institute in Maryland. He has worked in clergy support, counselling and the promotion of clergy wellbeing since 1997 and was appointed to his current post as executive director of St Luke's Centre, Manchester, in 2005. In addition to clinical work and experience, Father Gerard has extensive formation experience and is currently the Human Formation Tutor at the English College, Rome, and the Irish College, Rome, as well as here at the Royal English College. He has facilitated ongoing formation, education and clergy wellness workshops within the UK, Ireland and internationally. Father Gerard has been parish priest of two parishes and has direct experience of parish ministry in the aftermath of clergy sexual abuse. He has consulted internationally on safeguarding issues in Church life and ministry. In his spare time, Father Gerard is senior chaplain to Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force. He is also a proud Mancunian and supports Manchester United. He has a Westie called Monty and a niece and nephew. Father Gerard can be contacted by emailing or calling 0044 (0)1612264563.

Father Damian Cassidy



Father Damian joined the Carmelite Order in 1996 and professed vows in 1997. Before entering religious life he trained and worked as a nurse specialising in trauma and emergency healthcare. Since ordination in 2003 he has worked in university chaplaincy, parish ministry, retreat ministry and extensively with young people as part of the chaplaincy team in two dioceses. He brings with him a wide and varied experience of ministry and the depth of his order’s spiritual tradition.

Pilar Garcés García

Dr Pilar Garcés García

Spanish Language Tutor

Pilar is an associate professor at Valladolid University and a Doctor in English Philology, has BA in German Philology and MA in Japanese Culture and Society is currently teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses at the Universities of Valladolid and Salamanca on Discourse Analysis and Travel Writing. Her research field covers areas such as discourse analysis, travel writing, institutional and diplomatic relations between Spain and Britain and women in Japanese society. She has written about the archives of the Royal English College of St Alban and has continued researching the relationship between Spain and Britain through documentation and information in the college archives and library and seminaries in England. Pilar is transcribing and editing several books belonging to Count Gondomar’s personal library in Valladolid that shed light on the intellectual relations between Spain and Britain during the Early Modern period. She has been the general editor of the scientific journal ES (English Studies) published by the English Department of the University of Valladolid. She has also served at the university in positions including secretary general, vice-chancellor for International Relations, head of the English department, dean for International Relations and president of the Committee for Gender. She is director general of Universities and Research in the Ministry of Education of Castile and Leon.

Gregory Starkey

Mr Gregory Starkey

Spanish Culture And History Tutor

Gregory came out to the college from Poole, Dorset, as a 19-year-old student in 1971 before leaving formation and marrying in Spain. He lives in León and has three children and four grandchildren and is a Spanish secondary and vocational training teacher. Together with his wife Margarita, both now retired, he combines volunteer work with their local diocesan Caritas team with work mentoring young business start-ups at the city Chamber of Commerce. He studied English at the University of Valladolid and subsequently obtained a further licentiate in Geography and History while teaching. With a dissertation on the history of the college’s early finances, he considers it a home from home, and is privileged to share his understanding of Spain and its history and culture with the men who come to his alma mater in formation for the priesthood.

Associate Teaching Staff

Father Ian Tomlinson SJ
Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality

Most Rev Patrick Kelly, Archbishop Emeritus of Liverpool
Introduction to Theology

Father John Farrell OP
Introduction to Sacred Scripture

Very Rev Canon John Lumley BA, BD, PGCE, MTh
Introduction to Sacraments of Initiation

Sister Gillian Murphy SP MEd
Introduction to Catechetics

Dr Jim Whiston KSG, OBE, BSc, PhD, CChem, FRSC
Time, Change and Conflict Management

Rev Dr Bruce Burbidge ARCO, STB, MA, PhD
Introduction to Philosophy

Rt Rev Monsignor David Canon Hogan VF, JCL, KCHS
Introduction to Canon Law

Father Christopher Thomas STL
Principles of Managing Parish and Personal Finance

Mr David Wells
Introduction to Catholic Education

Father Stephen Wang MA, PhL, STL, PhD
Missionary Discipleship

Emelio Hernandez
Spanish Tutor

Laura Barrero
Spanish Tutor

Visiting The College

Although our primary focus is always priestly formation of the seminarians, when we are able to do so we warmly welcome groups and individual visitors who would like to learn more about St Alban’s crucial role in the life of the Catholic Church.

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