Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary

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Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Seal.png
Type Roman Catholic all-male seminary;
coed lay programs
Established 1999
Affiliation Catholic Church (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver)
Rector Very Rev. Scott Traynor
Students 120
Location 1300 South Steele Street, Denver, CO 80210
Main Seminary building (left of tower) and Christ the King Chapel (right of tower).

Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary is a Roman Catholic seminary in Denver, Colorado. The seminary is located at 1300 South Steele Street in the Cory-Merrill neighborhood of Denver, on the campus of the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization.


St. John Vianney Theological Seminary was constituted on March 17, 1999 to replace the former Saint Thomas Seminary that had been operating at the same site since 1907. Since its founding, the seminary has been dedicated to forming priests for the new millennium and offering programs for the formation of permanent deacons and lay faithful. The groundwork for St. John Vianney Seminary was laid by Cardinal James Stafford, then the Archbishop of Denver, who purchased the site of the former St. Thomas Seminary from the Congregation of the Mission in 1995. The facility was remodeled and the grounds were renamed the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in order to also serve as a campus for the Archdiocesan Chancery.[1]

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the successor to J. Francis Cardinal Stafford, completed a study in order to determine the feasibility of establishing an educational institution on the site. After consulting with priests and the people of the Archdiocese, he formulated a plan to open a theological institute to serve the formation needs of clergy and laity. These plans resulted in St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, a free-standing diocesan seminary with a spirituality year, pre-theologate and theologate for priestly formation. The plans also called for the establishment of the St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons, the Catechetical School, and Denver Catholic Biblical School for lay formation.[1]


St. John Vianney offers programs in the formation of candidates to the Roman Catholic priesthood, formation for Roman Catholic permanent deacon candidates, and lay formation programs.[2]

Seminary Formation[edit]

From its founding, St. John Vianney has been committed to the four pillars of formation which are found in St. Pope John Paul II's Pastores Dabo Vobis: Human Formation, Spiritual Formation, Pastoral Formation and Intellectual Formation. The programs for study in seminary formation at St. John Vianney include a Spirituality Year, which is a non-academic year for discernment; a Pre-Theology Cycle which includes a study of philosophy as well as language study and introductory courses in theology; and a Theology Cycle which is a four-year program of study theological and pastoral disciplines required for ordination.[2]

Spirituality Year House at St. John Vianney.

Spirituality Year[edit]

St. John Vianney's Spirituality Year was the first in the United States and it aims to develop the four pillars of formation in each man and gives each seminarian the opportunity to lay a strong spiritual foundation for his priestly life and for the remainder of his seminary training. SY is marked by a commitment to prayer and has 3 retreats throughout the year with the capstone experience of a 30-day silent Ignatian retreat. Of special note in the Spirituality Year is the media fast, in which the men turn from the world and toward Christ by giving up the use of phones, television, computers, and popular media. The seminarians in SY live in a separate community on the seminary grounds and pray, study, work and recreate together. This allows them to grow in self-knowledge, form friendships, and grow in the mutual sense of being called to share in Christ’s call and mission.

In addition to community life, the men spend 2 hours a day in the classroom where Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and spiritual classics are studied. Finally, the men go out into the community on apostolic assignments to teach young people, visit the elderly, or minister to the sick. In January of their Spirituality Year, the seminarians are sent out “two-by-two” for a whole month to be immersed in the lives and service to the poor. Some go to live and serve at a homeless shelter, others to an Indian reservation, others to the homes of the extremely poor. They go to bring Jesus to the poor and discover him waiting for them in the presence of the poor.[2]

Pre-Theology Cycle[edit]

The Pre-Theology Cycle at St. John Vianney is a two- or three-year cycle of courses which covers three essential components: philosophy, introductory courses in theology, and languages. The seminarian's Diocese may choose between degree and non-degree programs in philosophy to meet the entrance requirements for the four-year Theology Program. The study of philosophy is central to the Pre-Theology Program. The goal of the philosophy curriculum is "to develop a reflective awareness of the fundamental relationship that exists between the human spirit and truth, that truth which is revealed to us fully in Jesus Christ."[3] St. John Vianney offers three undergraduate programs of philosophical study: the Standard Program in Pre-Theology; the Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) Degree; and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree with Philosophy Major.[2]

Theology Cycle[edit]

The Theology Cycle at St. John Vianney is a four-year program of study in theological and pastoral disciplines which meet all of the requirements for priestly formation specified by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The program of studies integrates various areas of theology to form seminarians in the wisdom of the Church. Each seminarian is enrolled in a graduate level program that enables him to earn both a Sacred Theology Baccalaureate Degree (S.T.B.) and a Master of Divinity Degree (M.Div.) prior to ordination.[2]

Diaconate Formation[edit]

St Francis School of Theology for Deacons, (SFSTD), is a division of St John Vianney Seminary. This school provides for the Archdiocese of Denver a specific place for the training and formation of permanent deacons while utilizing the same professors as the seminary. The men who are ordained to Holy Orders provide service of Liturgy, Word, and Sacrament to the Church of Northern Colorado. Admission to study is limited to men under the age of 60.[2]

Lay Formation[edit]

The Catechetical School and the Denver Catholic Biblical School are divisions of St. John Vianney Seminary. The Catechetical School is a place where lay individuals come in contact and communion with the Person of Christ, through a prayerful, organic and systematic presentation of the Word of God in a setting that takes advantage of all the facets of effective adult learning: small group dynamics, independent study, personal application, and engaging lectures.[2]

The Denver Catholic Biblical School was founded to give adults the tools and skills they need to hear anew the invitation of their Lord in the pages of the Bible. Through lectures, small-group discussions and weekly coursework, students are guided through the Bible and demonstrate the relevance of God’s Living Word in the world today. In addition, the Biblical School offers prayer days and retreats throughout the year, pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome, as well as continuing education for graduates of the School.[2]

Christ the King Chapel located at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Accreditation & Affiliations[edit]

St. John Vianney is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and enjoys affiliation with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and Regis University in Denver.


Previous Rectors of St. John Vianney include Denver's current Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Msgr. Michael Glenn. On December 12, 2013, Rev. Scott Traynor, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became the third Rector.[1]


St. John Vianney serves 15 dioceses throughout the heartland, the Rocky Mountains, the Western United States and two international dioceses. As of 2014, there were 136 men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood from these dioceses.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Archdiocese of Denver Archives
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Catalog
  3. ^ John Paul II, P. (March 25, 1992). I Will Give You Shepherds - Pastores Dabo Vobis: Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference. p. 52. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°41′34″N 104°56′52″W / 39.69285°N 104.94788°W / 39.69285; -104.94788