The Saint Paul Seminary began the 2022-23 year with 82 men from 16 different dioceses in formation for the Catholic priesthood.
The seminary’s enrollment topped 80 men for the second year in a row. The previous academic year saw the largest one-year growth since 1975.
The group includes 25 “new men” from 13 different dioceses entering their first year of seminary formation. And they bring a variety of backgrounds and experiences into the community.
The new contingent’s resumes include 22 different fields of academic study ranging from philosophy to business to engineering to wildlife resources. Seven men come from college seminaries, including Saint John Vianney College Seminary across Summit Avenue from The Saint Paul Seminary.
They all come at a time of renewal and transition in the world of priestly formation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently released the new, sixth edition of the Program for Priestly Formation (PPF6), which gives direction straight from the Vatican and promulgates it throughout U.S. seminaries and dioceses.
The new guidelines include an additional year of formation on the front end called the Propaedeutic Stage, which is a year of preparation and discernment before entering major seminary. Last year, The Saint Paul Seminary became one of the first in North America to institute a propaedeutic stage formation program, which includes fasting from media devices six days a week and living in community at St. Mark’s parish a few blocks from the seminary’s main campus.
Sixteen men will take part in it this year.
The PPF6 also calls for a “vocational synthesis” stage following a man’s ordination to the transitional diaconate, where he will live and work as a deacon in his home diocese. After completing this stage, he would be ordained a priest.
Seminary Rector Fr. Joseph Taphorn is currently working with (arch)bishops from all of the seminary’s sponsoring dioceses to implement this stage.
The seminary also added three sponsoring dioceses this year: Crookston, Minnesota; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Lafayette, Indiana. Joseph Bower becomes the seminary’s first-ever entrant from the Diocese of Lafayette.
Unique among Catholic seminaries in its three-fold emphasis on forming priests, deacons and lay leaders, The Saint Paul Seminary also has:
- 33 men currently enrolled in the Institute for Diaconate Formation
- Close to 100 lay students working toward their Master of Arts in Pastoral Leadership, Master of Arts in Theology or a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership
- Over 670 students in the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute’s “Pillars” program
- More than 25 events planned for ordained priests and deacons by the Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation, including the annual pastor workshop and clergy study days