Annual Borromeo Weekend at St. Thomas Includes Nov. 2 Candlelight Procession of 237 Seminarians

The 237 seminarians who attend the two seminaries affiliated with the University of St. Thomas – one undergraduate and one graduate – will gather Nov. 2-4 for their Eighth 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 St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and the undergraduate St. 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. 2, 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 St. 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.

Laity cross the Summit Avenue median in a procession take took place during Borromeo weekend in November 2012. (Photo by Mike Ekern '02)

Enrollment at both seminaries is strong this year; the seminarians come from 31 dioceses from around the country and world.

St. John Vianney, the seminary for undergraduates, was established on the St. Thomas campus in 1968 and enrolls 133 this year, or about 10 percent of all college seminarians in the United States.

The St. 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 St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity through a 1987 affiliation with St. Thomas.  Today, it enrolls 104 men studying for the priesthood, the highest number since 1980. Another 74 lay people and members of religious communities are studying for their master’s degrees in theology.

Seventy men from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are studying for the priesthood: 41 attend the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity; 25 are at St. John Vianney; three are studying in Rome; and one is serving on a pastoral assignment.

“We are growing in numbers and in men of strong character and deep faith,” said Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, rector at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. “This is a great blessing for our seminary and for the entire Church.”

Commenting on why St. John Vianney attracts young men from throughout the country, Father Michael Becker, rector, said, “The combination of the tremendous academic, fraternal and spiritual life here is attractive to young men willing to live up to high expectations during their college years.