St. John's Seminary (California)

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St. John's Seminary
St. John's Seminary logo.png
Motto Deus caritas est
Motto in English
God is love
Type Private, Graduate
Established 1939; 78 years ago (1939)
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Chairman Jose H. Gomez [1]
President Patrick Nichelson[1]
Vice-president Albert Bahhuth[1]
Rector Marc Trudeau[2]
Dean Richard Benson[1]
Vice Rector John P. Brennan[3]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 96 seminarians (2014-15)[5]
17 Lay (2014-15)[5]
Location Camarillo, California, USA
34°14′35″N 119°00′19″W / 34.24308°N 119.005329°W / 34.24308; -119.005329Coordinates: 34°14′35″N 119°00′19″W / 34.24308°N 119.005329°W / 34.24308; -119.005329
Campus Suburban, 100 acres (40 ha)

St. John's Seminary is a Roman Catholic seminary located in Camarillo, California. It is within the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The seminarians prepare for assignments in dioceses as well as religious orders.[6]


The entrance to St. John's Seminary.
The entrance to St. John's Seminary

St. John's Seminary began teaching seminarians on September 12, 1939.[7] Juan Camarillo, Jr. donated 100 acres (40 ha) of land from his Rancho Calleguas on March 3, 1927 with the specific desire to have the land used for a seminary named for St. John the Evangelist.[7] On January 14, 1938, John J. Cantwell announced the planned construction of the seminary. The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada first accredited St. John's in 1976; it had previously been accredited by the American Association of Theological Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Beginning in 1961, St. John's granted bachelor's degrees through its subsidiary St. John's Seminary College. Following a 2002 report from a task force appointed by Roger Mahony, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles closed the undergraduate portion of the seminary.[8] Only 12 seminarians graduated in 2002, and the Archdiocese chose to focus solely on graduate training. The task force also scheduled a 2005 review to see if St. John's should be entirely closed with Loyola Marymount University taking over the school's functions; this shutdown has not come to pass. The diocese agreed to sell most of the seminary's land, including the area used for undergraduate study, in 2004,[9] for a price which was dependent on the sort of zoning approval the land would receive.[10] The seminary now seeks to become self-sufficient rather than relying on the archdiocese's funding. Toward that end, they are seeking to have an area formerly used as an undergraduate campus developed into between 270 and 290 houses for people 55 and older.[11]


Carrie Estelle Doheny donated her rare book collection to St. John's Seminary in 1940. The collection was sold at auction in 1988-89.


St. John's offers the Master of Divinity degree as a first professional degree for seminarians.[6] If interested in theological studies and research, eligible seminarians can also concurrently earn a Master of Arts.[6] The seminary offers a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry for non-seminarians who are interested in lay ministry.[6]


Sexual abuse[edit]

Alumni of St. John were accused in the sexual abuse scandal, which broke into public in the late 20th century, of molesting the underaged. Of the approximately 625 St. John's graduates to be ordained by the Los Angeles Archdiocese between 1950 and 2005, by 2005 65 had been accused in the sexual abuse scandal, reflecting a rate higher than what studies have found for U.S. priests in general. A seminary spokesman noted in November 2005 that California had extended its statute of limitations on molestation lawsuits, making more cases possible for prosecution. He suggested that a wave of publicity on molestation by priests had made St. John's graduates targets of such accusations.[12] Four days later, the Los Angeles Times ran a letter to the editor from St. John's rector, Helmut A. Hefner. He said that substantial reforms had been implemented in the seminary in terms of recruitment and assessment of students. He noted that changes had been made; as a result, from 1985 to 2005, only two of the 155 priests ordained at St. John's Seminary for the Los Angeles archdiocese had been accused of sexual misconduct.[13]


In May 2002, Newsweek had article entitled "Gays in the Seminary"; it opened with a description by a recent alumnus of St. John's, saying it "may be one of the country's gayest facilities for higher education. Depending on whom you ask, gay and bisexual men make up anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of the student body at the college and graduate levels."[14]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Board of Directors". St. John's Seminary. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ "New president tapped for seminary - Moorpark Acorn". 
  3. ^ a b "Faculty". St. John's Seminary. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Staff". St. John's Seminary. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Storer, Mark (September 4, 2014) "Catholic seminary starts milestone year" Ventura County Star
  6. ^ a b c d "Catalog" (PDF). St. John's Seminary. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "History". St. John's Seminary. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  8. ^ Erika Hayasaki; Steve Chawkins (November 23, 2002), "Church may close seminary", Los Angeles Times, pp. B–22 Home Edition, retrieved March 30, 2010 
  9. ^ Steve Chawkins (May 6, 2004), "Developer to buy part of Camarillo seminary land", Los Angeles Times, pp. B–1 Ventura County Edition, retrieved March 30, 2010 
  10. ^ "Seminary property may be developed". December 22, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Talks resume for Shea housing". February 20, 2015. 
  12. ^ Paul Pringle (November 17, 2005), "Trail of abuse leads to seminary", Los Angeles Times, pp. A–1 Home Edition, retrieved March 30, 2010 
  13. ^ Helmut A. Hefner (November 21, 2005), "Seminary's reforms should be noted", Los Angeles Times, pp. B–10 Home Edition, retrieved March 30, 2010 
  14. ^ "Gays in the Seminary", Newsweek, May 19, 2002, retrieved February 1, 2012 

External links[edit]