Welsh seminarians mistaken for bachelor party nearly kicked out of pub

Cardiff priests at The City Arms Credit The City Arms Twitter CNA Seminarians of the Cardiff archdiocese enjoying a pint at The City Arms. | The City Arms/Twitter.

Seven seminarians walk into a bar … and almost get kicked out.

That's what happened to a group of seminarians in Cardiff over the weekend when they went to The City Arms pub to celebrate the July 29 ordination of Father Peter McClaren.

Thinking they were a rowdy stag party in fancy dress, pub management initially asked the men to leave.

Realizing their error, they invited the men to stay and bought them a round of drinks.

"The staff thought they were a stag. We do have quite a few issues on the weekends with parties wearing fancy dress so it is our policy to turn them away," said assistant manager Matt Morgan, according to the BBC.

He added that the seminarians were "all great sports and saw the funny side of the situation."

Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff commented that "It is wonderful to hear that the seminarians were celebrating their own path to priesthood by having a good time in Cardiff, which of course they are allowed to have,' adding that "Priests are of the community and for the community they serve."

He also noted that "The diocese has celebrated the ordination of two seminarians in a week; despite rumours about the shortage of men presenting themselves for priesthood."

Fr. McClaren was ordained a priest of the Cardiff archdiocese July 29 after having served as a deacon for more than 10 years.

He had been ordained a deacon while married, and after the death of his beloved wife Marie, he spent time in discernment and chose to attend London's Allen Hall Seminary to become a priest.

The seminarians told Wales Online that when they were asked to leave, they thought it was a joke, until "it became clear that this was not the case and he was in fact serious."

The men were on their way out the door when a manager approached them and said he believed that they were in fact seminarians, and invited them back in for a free round.

"We were entertained and encouraged by the whole affair and look forward to future visits to the well-known establishment," the seminarians said, according to Wales Online.

They said they received a warm welcome from staff and customers at the pub for the rest of the afternoon, including several who had questions for them.

The pub staff was also amused to find that there was a Reverend James in the crowd of men in clerics –  which is also the name of a popular beer brewed by Brains Brewery served at the pub.

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"Even the management found it amusing that the Reverend Robert James, also a city native, was partial to the odd pint of the ale bearing his surname," the priests said.

"Our Rev James ale is one of our most popular beers so it was great to have a real-life Reverend James and his fellow priests enjoying a pint or two!" Morgan added.

The Archdiocese of Cardiff also chimed in on the incident, joking that the pub better not kick out any more clerics, as many of them, including the archbishop, like to frequent The City Arms.

"We'd like to thank 'The City Arms' for being good sports through all of this and their kind gesture to our seminarians – and please note a number of our clergy, including the Archbishop of Cardiff, frequent your bar so don't turf any more out please!"

"The seminarians in question included our own Rev. Nicholas Williams, Rev. Robert James (no the pint isn't named after him), Elliot Hanson and Dale Cutlan who took it all in good spirit," the archdiocese said. "Although initially shocked their only thought was 'where are we going for our pint now?'"

Williams and James were both ordained to the diaconate in June.

Overall, the archdiocese said the seminarians "walked away encouraged by the positive reaction of the local community – all thanks to a bit of white plastic around their neck and the everyday situation in which they like to partake."

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Morgan added that he would gladly have the group back to his pub.

"It's not every day you have a group of priests drinking in the pub and they would be welcome back any time."

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