The new seminary will serve the region as the premiere place for college-level priestly formation between Washington, D.C. and Miami.
The Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, has officially opened the St. Joseph College Seminary, which was dedicated by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis on September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The new building will serve the growing St. Joseph College seminarian program, the only one of its kind between Washington, D.C. and Miami.
According to Crux , the new seminary building has been in the works since 2016, but the construction plans were expedited as vocations have more than tripled in the last four years. The newly inaugurated seminary had barely opened its doors when the 27 seminarians currently studying in the St. Joseph’s College program moved in to fill two-thirds of the buildings 40 rooms. Crux also noted that there are 41 men in various stages of vocational discernment currently in association with the seminary.
Designed in the Gothic style, Watauga Democrat reports, the 30,000-foot complex cost $20 million to complete, with private donors providing more than $15 million towards the efforts. The completed building contains dormitories, classrooms, a library, a chapel, faculty offices, a dining hall, and a cloister where seminarians can walk and meditate. Of the new facility, Father Matthew Kauth, Rector of St. Joseph’s, commented:
“We broke ground on St. Joseph in the middle of a tropical storm two years ago and are opening the doors in the middle of a pandemic — because the work of the Church goes on amid any challenges. This is an enduring structure that is both traditional and modern, with beauty and function, that we hope will inspire future generations of Catholics in Western North Carolina to continue our mission to share the gospel.”
The Catholic Telegraph notes that the Diocese of Charlotte is one of the fastest growing Catholic communities in America, with 400,000 faithful spread across 92 parishes, a number that has increased ten-fold since 1972. With just enough priests in the diocese to keep one in each parish, Bishop Jugis hailed the efforts of the St. Joseph College Seminary, which could help take some of the burden off the overtaxed clerics of the Charlotte Diocese. Bishop Jugis said:
“Though we’ve been blessed with many good and holy priests, we need more to meet the needs of our rapidly growing flock,” Jugis said in a statement. “So it is essential that we make every effort to help form young men to be ready to serve in our parishes when the time comes.”
The St. Joseph College Seminary website offers several valuable resources for those who wish to discern their own vocation, including a guide to praying the Solemn Vespers. Learn more about the program in the Diocese of Charlotte here.