Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity

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The Saint Paul Seminary
School of Divinity
Saint Paul Seminary Chapel Ext.JPG
St. Mary's Chapel
Type Major Seminary
Established 1894 (1894)
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment $25,106,689[1]
Budget $6,389,498[2]
President Archbishop Bernard Hebda
Rector Msgr. Aloysius R. Callaghan, JCD
Dean Dr. Kenneth Snyder
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 84 seminarians, 70 lay, 400 catechetical institute[3]
Location St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America
Colors Gold and Black
Athletics Sons of Thunder
Nickname SPS
Affiliations ATS
Rectors of The Saint Paul Seminary
1894-1897 Fr. Louis Eugene Caillet
1897-1910 Fr. Patrick R. Heffron, D.D., J.U.D.
1910-1921 Fr. Francis J. Schaefer, D.D., J.U.D.
1921-1933 Fr. Humphrey Moynihan, S.T.D.
1933-1939 Fr. William O. Brady, S.T.D.
1939-1943 Fr. Lawernce O. Wolf, Ph.D.
1943-1945 Fr. James L. Connolly, Dr. Sc. Hist.
1945-1958 Fr. Rudolph G. Bandas, Ph.D.Agg., M.
1958 Bishop William O. Brady, S.T.D.
1958-1968 Fr. Louis J. McCarthy, Ph.D.
1968-1980 Monsignor William Baumgaertner, Ph.D.
1980-1993 Fr. Charles Froehle, S.T.D.
1993-2002 Fr. Phillip J. Rask, Ph.D.
2002-2005 Bishop Frederick Campbell, Ph.D.
2006–present Msgr. Aloysius R. Callaghan, JCD
Board of Trustees
Members Visit seminary website

The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, located in Saint Paul, in the U.S. state of Minnesota, was founded by Archbishop John Ireland in 1894, to provide ordained priests for the ever-increasing Catholic population of the Upper Midwest. The seminary now sits on the south campus of the University of St. Thomas, allowing the seminarians and lay students to be part of the St. Thomas community. Since its creation, over 3,000 priests have been ordained from The Saint Paul Seminary, with thirty-three of them being consecrated bishops — including three archbishops, one of whom, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, is a candidate for canonization.

There are currently more than 80 seminarians from 17 dioceses, one institute of religious life, and one religious order in formation at The Saint Paul Seminary; 23 men are in formation for the permanent diaconate; and 74 lay students are progressing toward graduate degrees in the School of Divinity. In addition, more than 400 students are enrolled in the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, a two-year, non-degree faith formation program.

The affiliated college seminary, St. John Vianney Seminary, is on the other side of the University of St. Thomas campus.


The primary financier to bring about Ireland's vision was James J. Hill, a Methodist and the president of the Great Northern Railway. Despite being Protestant, Hill's wife, Mary, was a devout Roman Catholic and the half-million-dollar gift and endowment to start the seminary were in honor of her. Being overly dedicated to even the smallest aspects of the new seminary project, Hill's influence over the completed project could be seen on a larger scale in that the six initial buildings were made to look like a train depot (the seminary administration building), a steam engine (gymnasium and physical plant), box cars (Cretin, Grace (though constructed in 1913), and Loras halls), a refectory, and a roundhouse (school building). The seminary complex was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed the Minnesota State Capitol. When the seminary was finally completed, Archbishop John Ireland shared his inspiration and desires for the new seminary in his address at the seminary's dedication on September 4, 1895 saying,

May rich blessings come to the Northwest from The Saint Paul Seminary! The influence radiating from the seminary will reach more immediately the people of its own religious faith. They are a large part of the general population of the Northwest. Beyond them, however, must its influence go. Its spirit will be to work for the whole people, offering its strength to uphold every noble cause, and willing to cooperate with all men who labor to serve God, humanity, and country.[4]

The dedication was attended by apostolic delegate Archbishop Francesco Satolli, four other archbishops, ten bishops, and over four hundred priests. The Pontifical Mass celebrated to dedicated the new seminary was attended by 20,000 people all told. Initially, in 1894, the seminary had sixty-five seminarians, by 1900 there were a hundred and ten seminarians from all over the Midwest and even from as far away as San Francisco. With the seminary buildings completed and students arriving, Archbishop John Ireland began the second phase of his building plans, the erection of what was to become the main chapel, St. Mary's Chapel.[5]

In 1987 The Saint Paul Seminary and the then College of St. Thomas, under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, formalized ties and the seminary became The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. This agreement has allowed the seminary to expand its programs to support both the formation of seminarians to become priests and the laity to become leaders in their parishes. Students of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity can earn degrees in Masters of Arts in Theology, Masters of Arts in Religious Education, Master of Divinity, and Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry.

The school's dormitory row was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as a historic district. The St. Paul Seminary Historic District received reference number #86003818 and the listing code DR, meaning "Date Received" and nomination pending, but the listing was never finalized.[6]

St. Mary's Chapel[edit]

Chapel from Summit Avenue

The center of Ireland's vision for The Saint Paul Seminary, was the chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cornerstone of the chapel was laid during a Pontifical Mass on July 2, 1901, the fiftieth anniversary of Bishop Joseph Crétin's arrival in the new diocese.[5] Though envisioned in 1891, the chapel was only completed by architect Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., who completed the last of Hill's ambitious building project, in an Italian Romanesque style. St. Mary's chapel was officially consecrated by Bishop Cotter on May 24, 1905 in another Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop McGolrick. Under Archbishop Austin Dowling, the interior of the chapel was finished in the 1920s.

The chapel was renovated in 1988, as part of the construction of the new seminary building, with a new design by Frank Kacmarcik which included reversing the interior of the chapel, removing the statues from the side altars, and whitewashing the interior decoration. Archbishop Roach intervened before the stained glass windows and the mural in the apse (now the entrance) could be destroyed, though too late to preserve the original high altar. The dramatic simplification of the chapel was done in order to capture the original look of the chapel's starkness before Archbishop Dowling had the interior finished.[5]

Presently, the interior of the chapel has begun to be redecorated when the original Stations of the Cross were restored to the chapel, a statue of Our Lady of Confidence (Madonna della Fiducia) was installed and dedicated in a side-altar niche, and a relic of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta was placed for veneration in the chapel. All of the new additions were done under the direction of rector Monsignor Callaghan.


Notable seminary alumni include:


The Saint Paul Seminary's Metropolitan Cross
Our Lady of Confidence

Visit The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity faculty webpage for current faculty members


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Waters, Noreen Saint Mary's Chapel of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity quoting from The Saint Paul Seminary Register 1896
  5. ^ a b c Sr. Mary Christine Athans, BVM To Work for the Whole People: John Ireland's Seminary in St. Paul
  6. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 

External links[edit]