The Blessing of the Saint John Paul II Seminary’s New Wing
This summer marked a special milestone as I ordained the first graduates of our archdiocesan Saint John Paul II Seminary. They are the pioneers, the first of many more to come – so many, in fact, we have needed to expand the seminary building multiple times, just like we continue to need more laborers for the harvest (cf. Matthew 9:38). These good men and those who follow will serve as the archdiocese’s next generation of priests, bringing the sacraments to our family of faith.
The continuing growth of the seminary since it opened in 2011 has been a significant blessing for this local Church. True to its patron saint, this house of formation offers a place where seminarians open their hearts to Christ in an environment marked by prayer, study, fraternal community and heartfelt devotion to Mary. Like the number of seminarians it serves, the building has nearly doubled in size in the past six years. Currently there are 77 archdiocesan seminarians preparing for a priesthood at Saint John Paul II and other seminaries here in our country and in Rome.
Now, on this coming Sunday, August 27, it will be a great pleasure to bless a new wing at the seminary. The expansion features a large conference room that will seat up to 200 people, a place where spiritual and educational gatherings can be held for our seminarians and priests, as well as an enlarged dining hall for the growing number of seminarians living and studying there. Monsignor Robert Panke, the seminary’s founding rector who also serves as the archdiocese’s director of priest formation, observes that the new conference room will mean that the seminary “becomes a real home” for our priests, just as it is for our seminarians who reside there.
Our growing seminary is a testament to the faith and generosity of people throughout the archdiocese, many who pray for our seminarians by name and who offer support for their education and formation through our annual Cardinal’s Appeal and other initiatives. In a particular way, on behalf of our seminarians and the whole Church of Washington, I want to thank Robert Comstock for his generous support for the seminary’s latest expansion. As a sign of our appreciation, the new wing’s conference room will be dedicated in his honor.
The Saint John Paul II Seminary now serves nearly 50 seminarians each year, including some from other dioceses who join our future priests in studying at The Catholic University of America nearby. The foundation of faith that they received from their families, parishes and schools demonstrates the important roles that we all play in fostering vocations to the priesthood.
As we celebrate our growing number of seminarians and this expansion of these facilities, we also can offer prayerful thanks to God and to Saint John Paul II for helping to shape this home for our future and present priests.