America’s Top Seminaries

There are other excellent catholic seminaries in the United States. In future issues, CRISIS will feature some of the following:

Theological Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo, Overbrook

Wynnewood, PA

Big is better at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary outside Philadelphia, where 89 seminarians are currently studying for the Philadelphia archdiocese. Another 108 students are preparing for service in other dioceses and religious houses. “St. Charles has an excellent formation program,” says Rev. John A. Close, vice rector for institutional advancement. “It includes human formation, spiritual formation, academic formation and pastoral apostolic formation.”

St. Joseph’s Seminary

Yonkers, NY

St. Joseph’s is known for its strong devotion to the Holy Father, who visited the seminary last October for evening prayer and spoke on the vocation of the priesthood. Rev. John Peter Cameron, a professor of homiletics, says, “Our strength is our reputation for academic excellence, which incorporates all the principles of Catholic tradition.” The seminary curriculum emphasizes the four areas of intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, and human development. The seminary, which has 50 students enrolled in pre-theology in addition to its 45 seminarians, is celebrating its centennial this year.

Holy Apostles College & Seminary

Cromwell, CT

“This is a good place to become a priest,” wrote former rector Rev. Donald D. Lawler in 1996. The Holy Apostles College and Seminary was founded in 1956 by Very Reverend Eusebe M. Menard, O.F.M., who also founded the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles to run the school. Not sponsored by any diocese, Holy Apostles relies on tuition and donations to support its 66 seminarians. On shaky financial ground only a few years ago, the seminary has a new lease on life thanks to careful management and the devotion of its students and staff. “We’re all in this together and were all in this to make it work,” says secretary Winnie Edmunds. “We have a strong spirit of community.”

Pontifical College Josephinum

Columbus, OH

The Josephinum is the only pontifical seminary outside Italy, and the Papal Pro-Nuncio is the chancellor. Founded in 1889 by Msgr. Joseph Jessing as a way for German-speaking immigrants to study theology, the Josephinum continues to attract seminarians from abroad, who train here for U.S. diocesan assignments. This year 77 students from locations as far away as mainland China, Latvia, Uganda, Japan, and India will begin their seminary training at the Josephinum. The associated college of the same name has 43 students.

Mount Angel Seminary

St. Benedict, OR

Noted for its “spirituality of hospitality,” Mount Angel seminary is home to 155 seminarians this year. A Benedictine monastery adds to the tranquil setting of the hill-top campus, which has its own retreat house, press and post office. Founded in 1878 by Benedictine orders from Switzerland, the seminary has experienced “tremendous growth over the past years,” according to Dorene Preis, press liaison for the seminary. “In 1992, we only had 93 seminarians, and in 1994, we had 115.”

Pope John XXIII National Seminary

Weston, MA

Dedicated to preparing older seminarians aged 30 to 60 for the priesthood, Pope John XXIII National Seminary encourages its students to draw on life experience as they prepare for ordination. Founded by Richard Cardinal Cushing in 1964, the seminary currently has 77 seminarians, with a median age of 43. “Pope John XXIII National Seminary integrates beautifully the past experience of second-career seminarians with their priestly formation.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

St. Louis, MO

Proud of its 104-year tradition of preparing priests to serve in America’s heartland, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary currently has 58 students. The Midwestern emphasis is pronounced, with seminarians hailing from dioceses including St. Louis, Bismarck (ND), Des Moines, Dodge City, Knoxville, Memphis, Peoria, Rapids City, Tulsa, Sioux Falls, Omaha, Fargo, and Kansas City.

St. Vincent Seminary

Latrobe, PA

Founded in 1846 by Benedictine monks, St. Vincent Seminary, the fourth oldest seminary in America, draws students from 16 dioceses and seven different monasteries. “We have a profound emphasis on spiritual formation,” says rector Rev. Thomas Acklin, OSB. “A lot of times only the negative stuff about seminaries gets out (to the public). This is the healthiest community I’ve seen.” Currently enjoying an enrollment explosion, St. Vincent Seminary has recently completed a building expansion to house 84 seminarians for the fall term, up from 32 in 1990. The seminary’s emphasis on the Eucharist and community life “has really made the difference,” says Acklin.


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