Michael Seed

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The Very Rev. Father Michael Seed (born 1957) is a Latin Rite Catholic priest, a Franciscan friar, author, and former Ecumenical Advisor for over 25 years to the former Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Basil Hume then to Cormac Murphy-O'Connor . Seed is known for his involvement in helping several British celebrities, members of the Royal Family and politicians in their journey to embrace Catholicism.

Early life[edit]

Michael Seed was born as Steven Wayne Godwin in Manchester, 1957, to a young woman called Marie, and baptised into the Catholic Church as an infant. He was adopted in 1958 by Joseph and Lillian Seed. During his early childhood he and Lillian were subjected to abuse at the hands of his adoptive father, resulting in a number of unsuccessful suicide attempts by his mother. Seed was subjected to relentless bullying during his school years, alongside the constant abuse he faced at home. Following the suicide of his mother in 1966 and the death of his father in 1968, he was raised by his maternal grandmother.[1]

Vocation[edit]

In his youth, Seed was involved in several different Christian denominations, including Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, the Salvation Army and the Baptist Union. Eventually, at the age of 18, Seed joined the Society of African Missions in 1976 and spent a year at the novitiate in Cork (city) in Ireland. After the novitiate he went to the SMA's house in New Barnet in north London and attended the now-defunct Missionary Institute in Mill Hill along with members of several religious congregations which prepare men for a lifetime of service to the poor of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Seed struck up a relationship with the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement (the Society of the Atonement) who ran a library close to Westminster Cathedral and eventually left his missionary society and joined the Franciscans, taking his first vows in 1982. He was ordained a priest on 18 January 1986 and, in 1988, Cardinal Basil Hume assigned him the post of Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs at Westminster Cathedral. Whilst at Westminster Cathedral, Seed assisted numerous people, including MPs Ann Widdecombe, John Gummer and Fred West as well as The Duchess of Kent, in their decision to enter the Catholic Church.[2][3] He celebrated Masses for the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his family, prior to Blair's conversion to Catholicism in December 2007.[4][5] He also has many connections with celebrity figures such as Charles Kennedy, Terry Wogan and Mrs Mills. In 2003 Seed was painted by artist Christian Furr who has done a portrait of the Queen.[6] Despite his work in the Westminster Diocese, Michael Seed remains a member of his Franciscan Order thus is faithful to his vow of poverty.

Activities[edit]

In 2007, it was rumoured that Seed was in trouble with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor; allegedly, the Cardinal was upset that Seed had introduced wealthy businessmen to government officials in an attempt to secure financing for Labour's flagship academies. Some speculated that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor saw this move by Seed as unwarranted support of specific Labour policies.[7] The Cardinal was also reported as being annoyed at Seed's statement that the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, would become a Catholic upon leaving Downing Street.[8] As noted above, Blair did indeed become a Catholic shortly after leaving office. However, Michael Seed only vacated his long standing position as Ecumenical Advisor on the retirement of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor in 2009 when he was succeeded by Cardinal Vincent Nichols as the Archbishop of Westminster.

Catholic peer Lord Alton said: "I hope that any decision taken about his future will ensure that his wonderful gifts are used in the most productive way. Fr Michael is hugely respected at Westminster where he has quietly undertaken very considerable pastoral work." [9] Catherine Pepinster, editor of Catholic newspaper The Tablet, added: "Many Catholics are dismayed by the departure of Fr Seed. He has been a fixture of Catholic life in London for many years and has done much to raise the church's profile."

In 2004, Pope John Paul II awarded him a cross of honour for his work.

Michael Seed has written several books including his autobiography "Nobody's Child" in 2008 which has had excellent reviews and has been described as a "blazing testament to one human's raw courage, and his remarkable ability to finally triumph over the horrors of a stolen childhood."[10] Other books include "Thinking of Becoming a Catholic" (2007) and "I Will See You in Heaven" (1996), "Will I See You in Heaven" (1999), and "Letters from the Heart" (2000). One of his first books, "I Will See You in Heaven, Where Animals Don't Bite" (1991) is a collection of letters about heaven by various famous people with a forward by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.[11] Cardinal Basil Hume was one of the book's contributors and enjoyed a very close relationship with Michael Seed who helped him raise funds for the homeless centre The Passage which is still going strong.[12] One of these fund raising events arranged by Michael Seed was the annual "A Night Under The Stars".[13][14]

On 15 July 2009, Seed launched the second volume of his autobiography, Sinners and Saints, at Stringfellows lapdancing club in London's West End.[15] The book received mixed reviews: The Telegraph "enjoyed the strange tale of carnality and cardinals".[16] Church Times referred to it as an "unpriestly book" and "careless talk"[17] with A.N. Wilson of The Observer bluntly stating that "He has now left Westminster Cathedral but he will surely not have left the public stage. Where two or three Hello!-style celebs are gathered together, Father Michael Seed will surely be there in their midst, managing to be both clumsily sycophantic and intrusive."[18] The Daily Mail's John McEntee, enjoyed Seed's writings, and mused who released to the press the account of the final moments of the former Minister, Alan Clark, seeing as Seed was the only other person present: "'Which of the two - the dead Clark or God - leaked the story to a newspaper?'"[19]

In spite of his critics, Michael Seed has an abundance of loyal friends inside and outside of the Catholic Church. One of these recounts, "I've seen his deeply spiritual side. He really does care. He is an extraordinary, special chap. A party in my garden once attracted the attention of the noise abatement people. He charmed them to death - they thought he was in fancy dress [in his Franciscan robes] - and they gave up and went away." [20]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guardian Profile: 7 April 2006
  2. ^ Timesonline 2 April 2006
  3. ^ The Tablet
  4. ^ Religionnewsblog.com 17 May 2007
  5. ^ BBC: Tony Blair joins Catholic Faith 22 Dec 2007
  6. ^ Michael Seed
  7. ^ The Telegraph: 16 June 2007
  8. ^ The Telegraph 16 June 2007
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ [6]
  15. ^ West End Extra 10 July 2009
  16. ^ [7]
  17. ^ The Church Times 4 December 2009
  18. ^ The Observer 2 August 2009
  19. ^ Daily Mail 21 August 2009
  20. ^ [8]

External links[edit]