St. John Vianney College Seminary
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|Type||Private, Diocesan seminary|
|Established||June 7, 1959|
|Rector||Msgr. Roberto Garza|
|Dean||Fr. Scott Circe|
|Location||Miami, Florida, United States
Saint John Vianney College Seminary is a Catholic institution, founded in 1959 by Archbishop Coleman Carroll, the first bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami. It is located in Westchester, a census-designated place of Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The goal of the institution is to form men for the diocesan priesthood by focusing on the pillars of formation: human, spiritual, pastoral, and academic. When the seminary first opened, the curriculum was for four years of high school and then two years of college. After graduation from St. John Vianney, the men were expected to enter a major seminary to continue their journey. In 1976, however, the school changed its format and it is now a four-year college program focusing on philosophy.
The Vincentian Fathers opened and ran the school, but in 1975 the Archdiocese of Miami assumed responsibility for the direction of the seminary. The seminary serves men of all the Catholic dioceses in the state of Florida, as well as other seminarians from various dioceses throughout the United States and the world. In accordance with the cultural makeup of Southern Florida, the seminary bills itself as bilingual, allowing seminarians the opportunity to interact, pray and socialize in both Spanish and English.
The present rector of the seminary is Rev. Roberto Garza, former Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Miami. Father Garza was appointed to the position in June 2010 by Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
In 2014, there were 97 students enrolled.
Under the guidance of newly appointed Archbishop Coleman Carroll, the Archdiocese of Miami set out to build a seminary on the outskirts of budding Miami over 50 years ago. In the papal document that established Miami as a diocese, Pope Pius XII issued just one specific directive: the founding of a minor seminary within the Diocese's territory. On June 7, 1959, construction crews broke ground on the new seminary in the suburban neighborhood of Westchester. Under the patronage of St. John Vianney, the Congregation of the Mission (also known as the Vincentian Fathers) staffed the minor seminary's high school and two-year general college program. Archbishop Carroll diligently oversaw its construction and (just three months after the groundbreaking) more than 7,500 onlookers witnessed the dedication.
Seeing enrollment triple from its original size by the fall of 1961, St. John Vianney Seminary continued to add more buildings to its campus. As the seminary's needs grew, so did the generosity of the Archdiocese's people. Recognizing the need for a fitting home for seminarians and staff to gather around the altar each day, Archbishop Coleman Carroll began construction on the Chapel of St. Raphael on September 6, 1964. Due in large part to a generous donation by Mary Louise Maytag, heiress to the Maytag fortune, St. Raphael Chapel (in its distinct neo-gothic style with high walls and large overhangs that bear resemblance to the archangel Raphael's wings) will become the recognizable symbol of the seminary.
The Second Vatican Council ushered in an era of reform throughout the Church, including seminary formation. Before the Council, seminaries were a two-tier system: minor seminaries and major seminaries. Minor seminaries provided teens interested in the priesthood with formation by way of a high school and additional two-year liberal arts program of studies in preparation for the major seminary. Major seminaries provided young men called to the priesthood with formation and higher education (philosophy and theology) leading to ecclesiastic degrees and ordination. By contrast, the Second Vatican Council advised seminary formation to begin after men completed their high school education. The seminary system transformed into college seminaries and theological seminaries. College seminaries now form men in an undergraduate college setting, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy upon graduation. Theological seminaries continue formation in a graduate studies environment in which men will be ordained, receiving a Master of Divinity.
As a result of the Second Vatican Council's directive, the high school program at St. John Vianney Minor Seminary closed in 1974. The following year, the Vincentian Fathers left the seminary and staffing responsibility turned over to the Archdiocese of Miami. The two-year liberal arts program remained open, however. Where some doors close, others open: administration began to develop a four-year college seminary program with a concentration in philosophy. St. John Vianney Minor Seminary became St. John Vianney College Seminary. Although this difficult transformation involved transitioning from a previous emphasis on high school education to that of a four-year college, certain priests helped to guide the seminary through its growth, including Msgr. John Nevins (later Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida), who became the college seminary's first rector. He and the first Academic Dean, Fr. Sean O'Sullivan, led the college seminary into a new age.
St. John Vianney's second rector, Msgr. Robert Lynch (now Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg), continued to improve the seminary. Arriving in 1979, Lynch made a dedicated effort to recruit faculty and staff that adequately fulfilled its mission. Among many distinguished personnel, Sister Trinita Flood, O.P., arrived as the second Academic Dean after great success in developing nearby Barry University. An influx of seminarians from the Caribbean as well as Central and South America, in addition to a growing need for faculty office space, necessitated expansion. In 1983, using money that Mary Louise Maytag set aside for further development, the seminary erected yet another building. The construction of the Maytag Memorial Library and adjacent Administration Building gave the campus library a permanent home and allowed for the addition of more classrooms and bedrooms to the preexisting Carroll Building.
As plans developed to add yet another building in response to the seminary's growing enrollment, the number of seminarians studying at St. John Vianney College Seminary radically dipped below 30 men. Many courses only had a handful of seminarians in them. This not only ended the hope of further expansion but now threatened the seminary with the danger of closing under the serious burden of financial upkeep. Then, in August 1992, Hurricane Andrew ravaged campus with major and extensive damage. These trials brought out the very best in the entire staff as they stepped up to save the seminary. Out of love for St. John Vianney, many staff members took pay cuts for several years without requesting a single cent of compensation.
Previously making his mark at St. John Vianney as Dean of Students, Msgr. John Noonan (currently the Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando) ushered in a new millennium as rector. Then, replacing him, Msgr. Michael Carruthers began the implementation of a wave of improvements that focused on the importance of the humanities, including the inception of a fund that allowed seminarians to attend enriching cultural events in the Miami area. Also, the academic program shifted to a greater emphasis upon the humanities through the institution of annual junior projects that aimed at augmenting that class' understanding of a particular topic in art and culture. In 2009, St. John Vianney marked the 50th anniversary of its founding.
Under current rector Msgr. Roberto Garza, the seminary hopes once again to expand its horizons. St. John Vianney has become one of the largest college seminaries in the country. In the past few years, St. John Vianney has run into a terrific problem: as total enrollment has now surpassed 100 men, the Archdiocese of Miami has begun preparing for growth. Over the next few years, St. John Vianney College Seminary will carry out the largest expansion since its founding.
Founded in 1959 by Archbishop Coleman Carroll, St. John Vianney College Seminary aims to form men for the diocesan priesthood by focusing on the four pillars of formation: human, spiritual, pastoral, and academic. In accordance with the cultural makeup of Southern Florida, the seminary bills itself as bilingual, allowing seminarians the opportunity to interact, pray, and socialize in both Spanish and English.
The Fifth Edition of the Program for Priestly Formation (approved by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops) directs the formation program of St. John Vianney College Seminary. As in the days of the first disciples, priestly formation takes place at the feet of the Lord as a journey of deep and continued conversion to Christ. St. John Vianney College Seminary guides men to learn His teachings, seek His wisdom, and pattern their hearts after His own.
Buildings on campus
1. St. Raphael Chapel
In the main nave of the church, four tapestries of various saints hang from the walls in addition to tapestries of Christ the Good Shepherd and Christ the Teacher. In the back of the Chapel, an authentic and functional pipe organ provides tones for the seminarians to sing their Liturgy of the Hours. On grand occasions, when the seminary chorus will use the pipe organ, the two transepts of the Church will fill.
2. Carroll Building
Named for the first Archbishop of Miami, the Coleman Carroll Building has existed since the founding of the seminary in 1959. The Carroll Building houses 7 classrooms on its first floor in addition to a computer lab. Also on the first floor, the Bishop Noonan Community Room provides seminarians for a lounge to relax, complete with ping pong and pool tables. A recently renovated kitchen sits adjacent to the Community Room. Across the hall, the Cinema Room is the perfect place to watch a movie with friends.
Moving upstairs to the second floor, the Carroll Building has 35 student dormitories—the majority of collegiate students live on this floor. Seminarians bunk two-to-a-room, with a sink and A/C unit in each room. Seminarians share two large communal bathrooms in the middle of this floor. At the far end of the second floor, the Holy Family Chapel gives a quiet respite from the business of daily life at the seminary; opposite the Chapel, a fully equipped laundry room serves the seminarians needs.
3. Library and Administration Building
As one of the newer additions to St. John Vianney College Seminary, the Library and Administration Building sits near the front entrance of campus. A breezeway splits the building into two separate parts: to the south, the Administration wing; to the north, the Maytag Memorial Library.
The Rector, Vice-rector, Academic Dean, and Controller all have offices within this building.
Opposite the Administration Building, the Maytag Memorial Library became a reality in 1983 thanks to the generosity of many benefactors, including Mary Louise Maytag. The first floor features a periodicals section, updated daily with the latest editions of dozens of publications. A computer work station with 6 machines also sits within the periodicals section. Book stacks fill a portion of the first and the entirety of the second floor. In the middle of the second floor, desks and tables create a positive study environment for students.
The Maytag Memorial Library also boasts one of the largest collections of paintings by Jehan Georges Vibert in the world—these priceless original paintings decorate the walls of both floors. The series concentrates on the corruption of the 19th-century Catholic Church in France, giving the seminarians a partly humorous but still realistic reminder of how not to act after ordination to the priesthood.
4. Holy Apostles Refectory
St. John Vianney College Seminary shares a portion of its 26 acres of land with St. Brendan Catholic High School. In addition to dual usage of St. Raphael Chapel, the seminary and the high school both utilize the refectory for meals.
The Holy Apostles Refectory is the main dining room for seminarians on campus with a hot meal served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week. Stained glass images of the twelve apostles line the walls of the refectory, created by the same artist as the mural in St. Raphael Chapel—Gabriel Loire.
7. McCarthy House
The majority of professors at St. John Vianney have offices within the McCarthy House. The building takes its name after Edward McCarthy, the second Archbishop of Miami, who served the faithful in that capacity for 17 years. In addition to many offices, the McCarthy House has several guests rooms; seminarians and priests reside in this building as well.
St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, one of three on-campus chapels, is also within McCarthy House. This chapel offers a quiet place for prayer and includes hand-painted Stations of the ross.
The institution uses two instruments to evaluate success with respect to student achievement (Alumni Survey and the Theological Faculty Questionnaire). As stated by the Institutional Mission, “the fundamental purpose of St. John Vianney College Seminary is to provide undergraduate education and formation to those students whose stated objective is to discern a call to serve the Catholic Church as priests. The institution assumes, as its specific responsibility, the academic, spiritual, pastoral and human formation of college seminarians within a bilingual (English-Spanish) and multicultural setting.” Given the nature and mission of the institution, students at SJVCS are not only engaged in the pursuit of an undergraduate degree, they are also engaged in a journey of vocational discernment. After graduation from SJVCS, those students who after their period of discernment decide to continue on their path to the priesthood seek admission to a graduate theologate to continue their priestly formation.
When assessing the success of the college seminary’s program and the readiness of its graduates for theological studies, the institution not only looks at the rates of admission to a graduate theology program, or even at the number of students who decide to continue in priestly formation (it must be remembered that students at St. John Vianney are in a journey of discernment which may either confirm their vocation to the priesthood or help them decide on a different path) but also at the level of readiness of the graduates to undertake the next stage of their vocational journey. For these reasons, the institution believes that the two instruments of assessment it uses (Alumni Survey and Alumni Assessment by Faculty at Theological Seminary) are adequate to assess and document its success with respect to student achievement. The two instruments complement each other in that together they give the institution valuable feedback in the four areas of its program of priestly formation (academic, spiritual, human and spiritual). The Alumni Survey provides feedback from the graduates themselves, whereas the Theological Faculty Questionnaire provides feedback from the faculty of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary which is the graduate theology program attended by the vast majority of graduates from St. John Vianney College Seminary.
The Alumni Survey assesses all four areas of the seminary's program of priestly formation. Students are asked to assess, a year after graduation, while they are engaged in graduate theological studies, not only the academic formation they received at SJVCS, but also the spiritual, human and apostolic formation so central to their future ministry as priests. The Survey has three sections. The first section of the Survey includes a set of 15 common General Questions for all graduates. The second section of the Survey, addressed only to graduates with a B.A., deals with 15 questions specific to the philosophy program. The third section of the Survey is specifically addressed to the assessment of the philosophy program by B.Phil graduates.
The Alumni Survey assesses the college seminary’s program(s) from the perspective of the students. The Theological Faculty Questionnaire, from the perspective of the theology faculty that guides their formation towards the priesthood once they graduate from St. John Vianney College Seminary. The instrument, which is given every other year, asks the faculty of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary to assess the readiness of SJVCS’s graduates not only for theological formation. The survey of 20 questions asks the faculty to assess the graduates’ readiness in all the areas relevant to priestly formation: academic, philosophical, spiritual, human and apostolic.
- "2010 Block Census Map Westchester, Florida" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on April 30, 2014.
- Home (English). Saint John Vianney College Seminary. Retrieved on January 3, 2015. "2900 SW 87th Ave. Miami, Florida, 33165"
- Saint John Vianney College Seminary - Archdiocese of Miami