More students sought for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. March 7, 2013. ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer ).
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. March 7, 2013. ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer ).
Posted: October 24, 2013

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said Tuesday it will keep the college division of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary independent and modify it to attract more students from other Catholic dioceses.

The decision came out of a task force formed in March to consider the future of the college where young men studying for the priesthood earn a bachelor of arts in philosophy.

Under one scenario, St. Charles Borromeo would have created a "house of formation," and young men preparing for the priesthood would take college courses at St. Joseph's University or at Villanova University, said Bishop Timothy Senior, rector of the seminary in Lower Merion Township.

But the task force, led by Rosalie M. Mirenda, president of Neumann University, recommended that St. Charles Borromeo emphasize the college as distinct from the theology seminary, where men are closer to the priesthood.

One goal is to make the college seminary more competitive, Senior said.

"These are young men who are getting scholarships to other places and are choosing to go into the seminary rather than go to Georgetown or [Boston College] or Penn. We've got to compete in that world to a certain extent," Senior said.

Senior said the seminary's goal was to increase enrollment at the college to about 100 students from the current level of 54.

In March, the archdiocese announced that it would sell or lease 45 acres of seminary land, including the college building that dominates the view of the property from Lancaster Avenue.

The plan was to consolidate operations in older buildings that would be renovated, but it was not clear what programs the renovations would serve. Now it's clear that there will be a residential college seminary, which is essentially an undergraduate program, Senior said.

The estimated cost of the renovations is about $30 million. Any proceeds from selling or leasing underused land and buildings will be used to help pay for those renovations.

The archdiocese said that it had hired HFF L.P. as a consultant to evaluate proposals for sale or lease. The same company is handling the sale or lease of land adjacent to the archdiocesan headquarters in Center City.

Additional money for the renovations will come from the Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope fund-raising campaign. The seminary is also considering the sale of paintings, including some by Thomas Eakins, who was a frequent visitor to the seminary in the 1870s.

Any gap would be covered by fund-raising dedicated to the seminary.


hbrubaker@phillynews.com

215-854-4651

@InqBrubaker

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