The 204 seminarians who attend the two seminaries affiliated with the University of St. Thomas – one undergraduate and one graduate – will gather Nov. 4-6 for their 12th annual Borromeo Weekend.
Named for St. Charles Borromeo, patron saint of seminarians, the weekend is set aside for 40 hours of worship and fellowship between the graduate-level Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity and the undergraduate Saint John Vianney College Seminary. What began in 2005 as a way to increase fraternity between the seminaries has grown into a communitywide event that is open to the public.
The weekend begins with a 7 p.m. Mass Friday, Nov. 4, at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, located at Cleveland and Laurel avenues on the university's main campus. Following Mass, a candlelight procession will cross the main campus and end at St. Mary's Chapel, located on the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity campus at Summit Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard. Officers from the university's Public Safety Department will stop traffic on Summit and Cretin avenues for the procession to cross from one campus to the other.
Enrollment at both seminaries is strong; the seminarians come from 27 dioceses and three institutes of religious life from around the country and world.
Saint John Vianney College Seminary was established on the St. Thomas campus in 1968 and currently enrolls 119 undergraduate men; 29 are studying for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It is one of the largest college seminaries in the United States.
The Saint Paul Seminary has been preparing men for the priesthood since 1894, when railroad magnate James J. Hill and his Catholic wife Mary T. Hill donated money to build a seminary on Summit Avenue. It became the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity through a 1987 affiliation with St. Thomas.
Today, it enrolls 85 men studying for the priesthood, with 28 in formation for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
In addition, 74 lay people and members of religious communities are studying for their master's degrees in theology; 23 men are in formation for the permanent diaconate; and 429 people are enrolled in the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, a two-year, nondegree program for lay students.
Together, more than 700 men and women are enrolled in the various programs of the two seminaries.
“These are exciting times for the [Catholic] Church,” said Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. “Following the lead of our Holy Father Pope Francis, it is a blessing to prepare so many dedicated men and women to be joyful ambassadors for Christ.”
Father Michael Becker, rector at Saint John Vianney, shares this enthusiasm: “The undergraduate seminarians are signs of hope for the Catholic Church. It is exciting for all staff, benefactors and intercessors to play a role in the formation of future leaders.”