Mark is studying at Allen Hall in London and in September returns there to complete the sixth and final year of his formation.
Mark said: “This will include completing my theological studies towards a Batchelor in Sacred Theology (STB) and a BA (Hons) in Theological studies from the Mater Ecclesiae Pontifical College/St Mary’s University, Twickenham. I will also undertake a pastoral placement at weekends, ministering in Wood Green parish in Westminster Diocese.”
In his homily, addressed to the seminarians, Bishop Paul said: “Like the disciples, you too have had many experiences, been exposed to many influences, heard voices calling you, there are so many in the world, yet the one that appealed to you most, gained your attention and you followed was the voice of God. It is he who has brought you to this point. We give thanks to him.
“The Deacon’s mission is to keep before our eyes the invitation of Jesus to everyone to come and share in the dynamic of God’s life. They are to let the reality of that life be seen through their own life of faith and service.
“The service to which our Deacons are called is not one of drudgery and menial tasks but one of generosity born of deep faith that they are indeed God’s servants.”
Mark is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland and trained as an occupational therapist at the University of Ulster before moving to London to work in hand and upper limb rehabilitation. He moved to Norwich in 2013 to study for a PhD in Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA), “with the dream of becoming a clinical academic,” he said. “But I discovered that God had other plans for my life when I heard his call to discern a vocation to the priesthood when attending ‘Invocation’ – a national discernment festival at St Mary’s Seminary, Oscott in 2014.
“Through much prayer, support, and encouragement, especially from the community at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich, and the Catholic Chaplaincy at UEA, I petitioned and was accepted by Bishop Alan Hopes, to become a seminarian for the diocese of East Anglia on completion of my doctorate in 2017.
“My vocation was born and nurtured in East Anglia and, God willing, on the completion of my theological studies, I am very much looking forward to returning to serve the people of God as a priest for the diocese.”
Pictured top is Mark Ashwood being ordained as a deacon at Westminster Cathedral on June 11. Click here to see more pictures.