Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, chairman of the board of trustees of The Saint Paul Seminary, and Monsignor Aloysius R. Callaghan, J.C.D., seminary rector and vice chair of the board, jointly announced a leadership transition plan for the seminary, the culmination of a process that began earlier in 2017 when Callaghan, having completed his second six-year term, indicated the present academic year would be his final year as rector.
With the approval of the seminary’s board of trustees and the support of the bishops of the province of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Monsignor Thomas Richter, a priest of the Diocese of Bismarck, has been appointed the 15th rector of The Saint Paul Seminary, effective June 1, 2018.
In preparation for that ministry, Richter will assume the responsibilities of vice rector on Jan. 1, 2018. During this time, Callaghan will work closely with Richter and help him transition into the role.
Following the transition, Callaghan will continue to serve The Saint Paul Seminary. At the request of Hebda and with the permission of his bishop, the Most Rev. Alfred Schlert, bishop of Allentown, Callaghan will, as rector emeritus, assist in seminary advancement and community relations, which are vital to the continued success of forming men for the priesthood. Callaghan also will be taking on new responsibilities related to the archdiocesan ongoing clergy support initiative.
“Serving as a father and rector to men preparing to be good, holy priests, as well as contributing to the formation of lay women and men in preparation for ecclesial leadership, has been the greatest joy and blessing of my priesthood,” Callaghan said. “To help them know the joy of being priests and to help them know the beauty of fraternity as missionary disciples for Christ has been an awesome and humbling experience. I am grateful that the good work of the seminary will continue under the very capable guidance of Monsignor Richter.”
Richter, 49, is currently the rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck. The North Dakota native was ordained to the priesthood in 1996 after receiving his theological formation at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome. Pope Benedict honored him with the title of monsignor in 2012.
Prior to becoming the rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Richter served as director of vocations for the Diocese of Bismarck. Outside of the diocese, he served on the executive board of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors and as a faculty member and spiritual director of the Institute for Priestly Formation.
Of his appointment to The Saint Paul Seminary, Richter said, “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Kagan of the Diocese of Bismarck and Archbishop Hebda for this opportunity, and I look forward to working closely with Archbishop Hebda on forming men for the priesthood. My priorities are to listen to and learn from the archbishop, Monsignor Callaghan, the faculty and staff at The Saint Paul Seminary, the priests of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and the lay faithful. As a pastor and formator of seminarians for the past 15 years, it has been a blessing, an honor and a privilege to be involved with the formation of the men who will give their lives to God’s people as priests.”
“Monsignor Richter comes to us as a well-respected pastor and former vocations director, experiences which I am confident will help him continue the great work of helping seminarians discern God’s call to the priesthood, guiding the men closer to Christ Himself and preparing them to be shepherds who lovingly minister to the flocks that will be entrusted to them," Hebda said. "Having known and admired him for two decades, I am confident that he will also provide excellent leadership to the deacons and lay faithful who study at The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Knowing his closeness to his family and to the church of Bismarck, I am particularly grateful that he has generously accepted this call to join us in the archdiocese.”
Callaghan was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1971. In 1977 he earned a doctorate in canon law at the Lateran University. After ordination he served in a parish and held various positions for the Diocese of Allentown, including secretary to the bishop and Director of Vocations. In 1981 he was named a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of monsignor. He subsequently served as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes (1986-91) and then as an official with the Congregation for Bishops (1991-95). From 1995-2005 he served as vicar general/moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the U.S., and various other positions. In 2005, he was appointed rector and vice president of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity.
During Callaghan’s tenure at the seminary, more than 170 men have been ordained to the priesthood, the highly successful Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute began, and the Institutes for Diaconate and Ongoing Clergy Formation were established. The Saint Paul Seminary has become widely recognized as a regional center of formation for lay and ordained leaders in the Catholic Church and the world. Today, more than 800 people are enrolled in various formation programs at The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity.
"This local [Catholic] Church has been blessed with wonderful priests – many of whom have benefited greatly from Monsignor Callaghan’s wisdom, guidance and his love of the priesthood and the people of God," Hebda said. "His 13 years as rector of The Saint Paul Seminary will positively impact the lives of people in this archdiocese and beyond for generations to come. I am grateful that Monsignor Callaghan agreed to continue to play an active role in the life of the seminary and of the archdiocese.”