Archdiocese of Washington to Open Blessed John Paul II Seminary

May 01, 2011

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, has formally established a new seminary for the archdiocese, which will be named Blessed John Paul II Seminary.

Named in recognition of the late Pope John Paul II who was beatified in Rome today, the seminary will be blessed on October 22, 2011, the feast day of Blessed John Paul II and the anniversary of his installation as pope in 1978. Plans for the seminary were announced in October 2010 and the permits necessary to complete the renovation of the structure that will house the seminary were recently finalized. Seminarians for the archdiocese will begin their formation through the new seminary in August 2011, and renovation of the building is scheduled to be completed in October 2011.

“Pope John Paul II was a special role model to so many people as an extraordinary priest, bishop and pope. In the quarter-century that he was pope, he traveled far and wide, met huge numbers of people and encouraged them with the words, ‘Be not afraid. Put your trust in God. Open your hearts to Christ,’” said Cardinal Wuerl. “Those words have inspired many young people to vocations. With the new seminary in the archdiocese, the young men who have been inspired to be part of the new evangelization may begin their formation right here at home and be an integral part of the local Catholic community in Washington from the beginning.”

The seminary is expected to have space for 30 men who will attend The Catholic University of America while receiving their priestly formation at the seminary. Before ordination, they will complete an additional four years of theology studies at seminaries currently in use by the archdiocese: Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD; The Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy; Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, MA; and Theological College in Washington, DC.

The faculty for the seminary:
• Monsignor Robert Panke has been appointed Rector and will serve as Director of Formation for all the seminarians of the archdiocese and as Director of Continuing Clergy Formation for all the archdiocese’s priests.
• Father Carter Griffin has been appointed Vice-Rector and will serve as the new Director of Priest Vocations for the archdiocese. He currently serves as parochial vicar of St. Peter Parish on Capitol Hill.
• Father William Gurnee has been appointed the Seminary Spiritual Director and the Director of Spiritual Formation. He currently serves as pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Avenue, Maryland,
• Father Scott Woods has been appointed Assistant Director of Priest Vocations for the archdiocese and will continue as pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in St. Mary’s City and St. Peter Claver Parish in St. Inigoes, Maryland.
• Father Robert Walsh will continue as the Assistant Director of Priest Vocations for the archdiocese and as the Catholic chaplain at the University of Maryland.
• Father Mario Dorsonville has been appointed Adjunct Spiritual Director and will continue as Director of the Spanish Catholic Center and Vice President for Mission at Catholic Charities.

The seminary will be located near The Catholic University of America at 145 Taylor Street, NE, Washington, DC. Renovation on the building has begun and the chapel in the building is being completely restored and will be dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Church. Currently, 67 men are studying for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Washington, including 29 in college and pre-theology studies.

Chieko Noguchi
Office of Communications
[email protected]