The Diocese of Phoenix, the seventh largest Roman Catholic diocese in the US, has announced the construction of the first full-fledged seminary in Arizona. Called Nazareth Seminary, the new building will address the growing need for priests in the state, while offering this education and formation much closer to home.
According to a report from Arizona Republic, Nazareth Seminary will cater to Arizona seminarians who wish to serve as priests within the state of Arizona. Bishop John P. Dolan, of the Diocese of Phoenix, explained that the seminary will help to get more active priests serving in Phoenix’s 100 parishes, as well as throughout the state. It is the bishop’s hope that a nearby seminary would encourage more young men to discern a vocation, as they would not have to move some 800 miles north to attend St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.
In an interview with ABC15, Bishop Dolan commented:
“We have about 45 seminarians. That’s a pretty good number. I think it’s just important for us to have a good look at them and [for] them to have a good look at us. When they study for the Diocese of Phoenix, they’re studying to be ordained by the Bishop of Phoenix and serve any of the parishes within Phoenix,” said the bishop.
The new building will house seminarians during their spiritual formation as priests, while the intellectual education will take place at Mary College at ASU. Bishop Dolan expressed his hopes that splitting their time between locations will allow seminarians to gain valuable practice engaging in the communities they will one day serve as priests.
Rev. Paul Sullivan, who will serve as rector for the Nazareth Seminary, explained that the program will foster a sense of community in seminarians with shared activities, such as volunteering for charities, cooking and cleaning as a team, and walking tours of the 5 California Mission Churches between San Diego and Los Angeles.
“Our hope is to help them to grow and with great freedom consider whether this is their path in life from God,” Sullivan said, adding the seminary’s home model is “academics in the midst of a culture and a believing community.”
The Diocese of Phoenix notes that Nazareth Seminary will be an expansion of its current limited program at Nazareth House. Previously the program would take seminarians through their first two years of education before they would need to go to St. John Vianney Seminary to complete the spiritual formation. Once completed, Nazareth Seminary will carry seminarians from discernment to ordination.
Seminarians and priests of Nazareth House share their experience in seminary and encourage all young men to discern a vocation as a priest in the video below.