Seminaries of Saint Paul

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The Seminaries of Saint Paul
Seminaries of Saint Paul logo.png
Joyful Catholic Leaders
Established1894 (1894)
AffiliationRoman Catholic
PresidentBernard Hebda
  • V. Rev. Michael C. Becker, Jr. (Saint John Vianney College Seminary)
  • V. Rev. Joseph Taphorn (Saint Paul Seminary)
Students85 major seminarians, 120 college seminarians, 62 lay, 600 Catechetical Institute[1]
Location, ,
United States
ColorsNavy and Bronze

The Seminaries of Saint Paul is the seminary system of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Seminaries are made up of an undergraduate division - The Saint John Vianney College Seminary - and a graduate division - The Saint Paul Seminary. The Saint Paul Seminary also has graduate theology programs for non-seminarians in affiliation with the University of St. Thomas, called the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Together have over 200 seminarians studying for the Catholic priesthood, and the Saint Paul Seminary has over lay 600 students in graduate and non-degree seeking programs.

Both seminaries are located on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, MN.

While their corporate boards have long been identical, the two seminaries were combined under a single brand in 2018.



The Saint Paul Seminary's Metropolitan Cross

From the beginning of his episcopacy, Archbishop John Ireland wished to be able to provide ordained priests for the ever-increasing Catholic population of the Upper Midwest, and began seeking funding for the creation of a new seminary. The primary financier to bring about John Ireland's vision of an Archdiocesan seminary 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 Saint Paul 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. 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, which was dedicated on 4 May 1905.[2] The seminary's old dormitory row (Loras, Cretin, and Grace halls) 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.[3]


In the early 1920s, a high school preparatory seminary was built called Nazareth Hall. It was built on the shore of Lake Johanna. During its years of operation, it educated seminarians through high school and their first two years of philosophy. However, it was shut down in 1971 due to declining enrollment. The former buildings of the seminary remain intact, having been sold to Northwestern College.

Prior to the closing on Nazareth Hall, Saint John Vianney College Seminary (SJV) was founded in 1968. It took over the four years of philosophical education, taking the first two from Nazareth Hall and the final two from the Saint Paul Seminary. Before the current building was built, SJV spent several years in Loras Hall, then Brady Hall on the University of St. Thomas campus. The current SJV building was built in 1982-1983, and the chapel was dedicated on 11 September 1983.


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 affiliation 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. While the two institutions are affiliated, they are still separate corporations with separate boards of directors, finances, and staff.

Upon the signing of the affiliation agreement, the seminary built new administration and dormitory buildings and sold the most of its land and buildings to the university, including Loras, Grace, and Cretin residence halls and the Binz refectory. The Ireland library building was included in the sale, but the books remain the property of the seminary. St. Mary's Chapel was also renovated at that time; the new administration building was built to connect to the former front of the chapel, which is now the rear.


The early 2000s were times of great transition for both seminaries. Fr. William Baer became the rector of SJV in 1999, and began to implement changes that increased the seminary's enrollment from under 50 to above 150. Around the same time, big change were being made at the Saint Paul Seminary as well. In 2005, Msgr. Aloysius R. Callaghan was appointed as the rector of SPS. A priest of the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, he worked as a canon lawyer for many years in both the Vatican and in the Archdiocese for the Military Services. During his tenure as seminary rector, the seminary greatly increased its enrollment and programs. Fr. Michael Becker was made the rector of SJV in 2010.


In 2018, Msgr. Callaghan transitioned to Rector Emeritus of the Saint Paul Seminary. It was originally announce that Msgr. Thomas Richter of the Diocese of Bismark would replace him, but his diocese recalled him shortly after he began a transitory period of being a vice-rector. On July 16, 2018, it was announced that Fr. Joseph Taphorn of the Archdiocese of Omaha would succeed Msgr. Callaghan starting January 1, 2019.[4] During the interim time period, Bishop Andrew Cozzens was the interim rector.

On 23 October 2018, a new initiative was announced which combined the brands of Saint John Vianney College Seminary and the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity into the Seminaries of Saint Paul. The seminary boards of directors had long been identical, and in order to have a unified mission and vision the decision was made to have a unified brand. While after the branding change they will still have two rectors and operate relatively independent of each other as they had before, the new initiative aims to make the Seminaries of Saint Paul a "national center of formation" for seminarians and lay people.

Saint John Vianney College Seminary[edit]

St. John Vianney Seminary
SJV Seminary from Upper Quad.jpg
St. John Vianney Seminary as seen from the Upper Quad at the University of St. Thomas
MottoMen in Christ. Men of the Church. Men for Others.
RectorVery Rev. Michael Becker
2110 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota
SJV seminary logo.png

Saint John Vianney College Seminary (SJV) is the undergraduate school of the Seminaries of Saint Paul. As of 2013, the seminary was the largest college seminary in the United States with over 130 seminarians and 27 sponsoring dioceses.[5] The seminarians at SJV represent about 10% of all college seminarians in the United States.[6] From its first 40 years of classes, over 400 alumni had been ordained to the Catholic priesthood.[7] Students are enrolled at the University of St. Thomas and take all their classes through the university, where they are required to earn a degree in philosophy but are free to also major and minor in other areas and participate in the general life of the university.

The formation program can be anywhere from two to four years, depending on whether the seminarians has transfer credits or not. The program of formation includes monthly meetings between a seminarian and his formation director, biweekly meetings between the seminarian and his spiritual director, and weekly conferences, community meals, and meetings.


The seminary building is on the north campus of the University of St. Thomas, just northwest of Ireland Hall and east of Flynn Hall.

St. John Vianney chapel

The SJV Chapel is a simple chapel with a large circular mosaic of loaves and fishes. It has been renovated and rearranged several times.

The basement contains the Pope Benedict XVI Room (abbreviated Pope Benedict Room) where then-Cardinal Ratzinger met with then-Rector Richard Pates. On display in the room is a zucchetto of Benedict, given to a seminarian from SJV who visited Rome and extended a new one to the Pope as he passed by; the Pontiff then exchanged the new one for his own.

Zucchetto of Benedict XVI on display in Pope Benedict Room

The ground floor has offices for the in-house priests and academic and administration staff, as well as guest rooms. The remaining four floors are residence floors.

Last Chance Mass[edit]

Last Chance Mass is an outreach offered by the seminary to the students of the University of St. Thomas and the surrounding community. Every Sunday night at 9pm, Mass is offered in the SJV chapel to the general public by the rector of the Seminary, with refreshments following.[8] It was originally for the football players of the University of St. Thomas.

Caruso's Crew[edit]

When Coach Glenn Caruso took over the University of St. Thomas football team in 2008, he approached the men at the seminary and asked them to come and cheer on the Tommies at football games, as not many people attended them due to their losing record. Since then, the men of SJV have been some of the most active fans for the football team, attending every home game.[9] A subgroup of the seminarians, called "Caruso's Crew", dress up as hard hat workers and paint on faux moustaches. The crew carry large tools made of cardboard and duct tape (a hammer, saw, wrench, and lunch box). This group has been known to travel hundreds of miles to attend away games.[10] Each year's Caruso's Crew is chosen by the previous year's crew.

The Saint Paul Seminary[edit]

Saint Paul Seminary
Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity.jpg
St. Mary's Chapel
Former names
Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity
Pastores Dabo Vobis
Motto in English
I will give you shepherds
TypeMajor seminary
Established1894 (1894)
RectorJoseph C. Taphorn
DeanKenneth Snyder
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students85 seminarians, 62 lay, 600 Catechetical Institute[1]
AthleticsSons of Thunder

The Saint Paul Seminary (SPS) is the major seminary of the Seminaries of Saint Paul. The seminary sits on the south campus of the University of St. Thomas. 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.

As of the 2018-2019 academic year, there are 85 seminarians representing 16 dioceses and religious communities in formation at The Saint Paul Seminary; 31 men were in formation for the permanent diaconate; and 62 lay students were enrolled in the School of Divinity's graduate degree programs. In addition, more than 600 students were enrolled in the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, a two-year, non-degree faith formation program.


Academic buildings[edit]

The Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library is the theological library of the seminary; there are over 110,000 volumes in the library. The library is integrated into the University of St. Thomas library system so that non-seminary students are able to use its resources as well. Classes are held in the Brady Educational Center, which also houses the undergraduate music department of the University of St. Thomas.

Residence and Administration buildings[edit]

Loras, Grace, and Cretin halls were the original residence buildings; they were sold to the University of St. Thomas during the seminary/University affiliation agreement. Ground was broken on the current residence and administration buildings in 1988, and they were completed in 1989.

Seminarians in the Pre-Theology program live in a former convent several blocks off-campus.

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.[2] 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.

Bishop Fulton Sheen, in his autobiography A Treasure in Clay, talks about how his love for a daily Holy Hour was started at St. Mary's Chapel.

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.[2]

Chapel interior

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 Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta was placed for veneration in the chapel. All of the new additions were done under the direction of rector Aloysius Callaghan.

Priestly Formation Program[edit]

Throughout all the years of formation, men who are sponsored by Catholic dioceses to study for the Catholic priesthood have a spiritual director, academic adviser, and formation director.


The Pre-Theology program is a two-year, non-degree seeking program for men in priestly formation who already have an undergraduate degree not from a college seminary.[12] The program contains various philosophy and theology classes, some of which are taken at the University of St. Thomas and some of which are entirely in-house.[13]


The M.Div. program is a four-year program which includes summer pastoral programs such as hospital ministry,[14] Spanish immersion,[15] and parish placements. The academic curriculum was revised and updated in 2016.[16]

Each seminarian has a "Teaching Parish" in the area where he is assigned throughout his four years of theology.[17] At his "Teaching Parish," the seminarian is expected to grow in skills needed for pastoral ministry under the mentorship of an experienced pastor and committee of laypeople.

During the January Term ("J-Term"), men in their second, third, and fourth years go on trips to Ireland,[18] the Holy Land,[19] and Rome,[20] respectively.

School of Divinity[edit]

The Master of Arts in Theology degree is a two-year, 36 credit program focused on academic theology. While students of the MAT program are primarily laypeople, it can also be taken by seminarians alongside their M.Div. degree.[21]

The seminary also has Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPM) and Master of Arts in Religious Education (MARE) programs which are 48 and 42 credits, respectively.

Catechetical Institute[edit]

In 2008, the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute was established. The AHJFCI is a two-year program which allows lay students to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church in depth. The program it split into four modules/semesters and meets once a week. The program primarily meets at the seminary, but there are satellite locations at local parishes as well as in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. There are more than 600 lay students enrolled in the Catechetical Institute.

Institute for Diaconate Formation[edit]

Formation for permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis also occurs at the seminary. It is a five-year program, including the pre-requisite of graduating from the two year Catechetical Institute.

Student life[edit]

Seminarians participate in a wide variety of activities, including choir, schola, theatre, and sports.


In the past, the Saint Paul Seminary had a theatre program going back as far as 1939.[22] The program appears to have died out in the late 1960s. In 2013, seminarians revived the theatre program and have put on various plays and musicals, many of them originals, since then. While most of the productions have only been put on by seminarians from the Saint Paul Seminary, Saint John Vianney Seminary has been invited to join some of them as well.


Rectors' Bowl History
Year Winner Score
2000 SPS N/A
2001 SPS N/A
2002 SPS N/A
2003 SPS N/A
2004 SPS N/A
2005 SPS 27-6
2006 SJV 34-20
2007 SPS 39-25
2008 SJV 21-7
2009 SJV 43-26
2010 SJV 34-7
2011 SPS 32-18
2012 SJV 20-13
2013 SJV 19-12
2014 SPS 25-6
2015 SPS 27-6
2016 SPS 45-7
2017 SJV 25-14
2018 SPS 12-6

Each year in October, Saint John Vianney College Seminary (playing as the "JAXX") and the Saint Paul Seminary (playing as the "Sons of Thunder") play each other in a flag football game called the "Rectors' Bowl." SPS has won twelve of the nineteen Rectors' Bowls.

In the spring, there is a priest/seminarian basketball tournament where St. John Vianney Seminary and the Saint Paul Seminary face-off, and the winner of that match plays a team consisting of priests from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Seminarians regularly play frisbee, basketball, and other sports together. They also regularly participate in other seminary tournaments such as the Conception Seminary soccer & volleyball tournament.

Notable Faculty[edit]

Some notable past and present faculty members of the seminaries are:

Notable Alumni[edit]

Our Lady of Confidence

Saint John Vianney College Seminary Alumni[edit]

Saint Paul Seminary Alumni[edit]

History of Rectors[edit]

Saint John Vianney College Seminary[edit]

Saint Paul Seminary[edit]

  • Fr. Louis Eugene Caillet (1894-1897)
  • Fr. Patrick R. Heffron, DD, JUD (1897-1910)
  • Fr. Francis J. Schaefer, DD, JUD (1910-1921)
  • Fr. Humphrey Moynihan, STD (1921-1933)
  • Fr. William O. Brady, STD (1933-1939)
  • Fr. Lawernce O. Wolf, PhD (1939-1943)
  • Fr. James L. Connolly, Dr. Sc. Hist. (1943-1945)
  • Fr. Rudolph G. Bandas, Ph.D.Agg., STD (1945-1958)
  • Bishop William O. Brady, STD (1958)
  • Fr. Louis J. McCarthy, PhD (1958-1968)
  • Monsignor William Baumgaertner, PhD (1968-1980)
  • Fr. Charles Froehle, STD (1980-1993)
  • Fr. Phillip J. Rask, PhD (1993-2002)
  • Bishop Frederick Campbell, PhD (2002-2005)
  • Msgr. Aloysius R. Callaghan, STL, JCD (2006–2018)
  • Fr. Joseph Taphorn, JCL (2018–present)

Sponsoring Dioceses[edit]

* denotes a diocese that only sends to Saint John Vianney Seminary.

† denotes a diocese that only sends to the Saint Paul Seminary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Annual report" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b c Sr. Mary Christine Athans, BVM To Work for the Whole People: John Ireland's Seminary in St. Paul
  3. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Saint John Vianney – Saint John Vianney – University of St. Thomas – Minnesota".
  6. ^ "10%". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  7. ^ "St. John Vianney Seminary". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Last Chance Mass". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Freshman – Office of Admissions – University of St. Thomas – Minnesota".
  10. ^ "Distance is but a number for loyal 'Caruso's Crew' «  TommieMedia".
  11. ^ "Photo without caption" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Pre-Theology Program". The Saint Paul Seminary. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  13. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2018. External link in |publisher=, |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Spiritual Pastoral Ministry (Summer before Theology II)". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Spanish Immersion (Summer before Theology III)". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Master of Divinity Degree". Saint Paul Seminary. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Teaching Parish Program (Theology I-IV)". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Teaching: A Reflective Process". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Scriptural Preaching in Jerusalem". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Mission and Ministry in Rome". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Master of Arts in Theology". The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  22. ^ Hedman, Paul. SPS Theatre (PDF) Retrieved 30 September 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]