Archdiocese of Washington to Open New Seminary

October 19, 2010

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl announced today that the Archdiocese of Washington will open a new seminary in August 2011 for men preparing to become priests. The seminary, for men in college and pre-theology studies, will be located near The Catholic University of America at 145 Taylor Street, NE, Washington, DC.

“At a time when the teachings of the Catholic faith seem counter-cultural, we are seeing an increased interest in the priesthood, particularly among younger men who want to be a part of a new evangelization in society. Until now, most of our new seminarians, especially those in college, have had to leave the area for their studies. Now, the men will begin their formation here and be an integral part of the local Catholic community from the beginning,” said Archbishop Wuerl.

Sixty-seven men are studying for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Washington, including 29 in college and pre-theology studies. In the 2001-02 academic year, 11 of 44 seminarians were in college or pre-theology programs.

Monsignor Robert Panke, archdiocesan director of priest vocations and formation for the archdiocese and president of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors, is overseeing the development of the new seminary. He calls it “a real boost” to vocations efforts and notes that the archdiocese has accepted 9 to 15 men into formation annually in recent years. He attributes the numbers to efforts to encourage young men in high school and college to consider the priesthood.

Initially, the seminary will 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 such as Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD; Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy; and Theological College in Washington, DC.

Beginning stages in the renovation of the building are already underway and the work is being paid for by private donations. Constructed originally as a residence for a men’s religious order, the building currently houses archdiocesan offices and space for a few members of a religious community.

This will be the second seminary operated by the Archdiocese of Washington. The first, Archdiocesan Seminary Redemptoris Mater in Hyattsville, MD, opened in 2001 to prepare men from around the world to be archdiocesan missionary priests. Once ordained, they serve in the Archdiocese of Washington and missions worldwide.

Last year, 1,443 men were in college seminaries in the United States, and 3,483 in pre-theology or theology, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. After three decades of decline, seminary enrollment in the United States has stabilized over the past 15 years.

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