Over 100 years ago, The Saint Paul Seminary was built and endowed by Minnesota millionaire James J. Hill, who presented it to the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis as a gift in honor of his Catholic wife, Mary Mehegan Hill. He financed and supervised the construction of six buildings, but it was the vision of Archbishop John Ireland and his strong leadership that defined the noble traditions and set the high educational standards for the seminary.
“Nothing short of the best and the highest is worthy of the priesthood and the other causes which the priesthood represents,” Ireland wrote.
The Saint Paul Seminary and affiliate institution the University of St. Thomas sprouted from common roots. In 1885, Archbishop John Ireland founded the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, begun as a high school, college and seminary. Its initial purpose was to educate American clergy for the American Catholic Church; it eventually became the modern-day University of St. Thomas.
In 1894, a separate six-year seminary named The Saint Paul Seminary opened its doors.
Today, in addition to its core work of priestly formation, the seminary forms future deacons and lay leaders. It is a major component of the regional Church's commitment to develop competent, dedicated and effective ordained and lay leadership for the Church.