I wanted to share this fun “video update” on our building progress from Edifice, the general contractor for our seminary construction project. It includes a great aerial view of the land and steel structure work that has been completed to date. I’ve also included a copy of the article that appeared in the May 24 edition of The Catholic News Herald below, that details the progress on the construction of the seminary and the capital campaign.
Clearly this land provides a quiet and remote respite where a young man can remove himself from the noise of secular society and find the silence necessary to hear that “still, small voice” (I Kings 19:12) as he discerns his priestly vocation.
We are nearing $10 million in pledges for the seminary’s capital campaign. We are looking for individuals and couples who will make 3-to-5-year pledges to help us meet our goal of $20 million. For those who have already made a pledge, we thank you! For those who have not yet had a chance to make a pledge or would like more information about the campaign, please reply to this email or click here.
Do you know someone who has a heart for supporting the formation of good and holy priests to serve our diocese? Please forward this email to them and share the news about our college seminary!
I am grateful for your prayers and support of this important endeavor.
Fundraising continues as enrollment, need increases
MOUNT HOLLY — St. Joseph College Seminary continues to see steady growth as its permanent location starts to take shape.
Construction work and fundraising efforts on the $20 million project have picked up pace since ground was broken last September on the site near Belmont Abbey College. Enrollment is also on the rise and expected to be higher than this year, although it’s too early to report an official number yet for this fall.
Unusually wet weather over the winter and spring initially hampered work at the site, said Emmett Sapp, Diocese of Charlotte construction manager.
“We had a challenging winter. I believe it was the wettest winter on record and it made clearing and grading work on site very challenging,” Sapp said. “Right now, the weather appears to be cooperating, but that could change anytime.”
Most recently, the structural steel was erected for the residential wing of the building and the first- and second-floor concrete slabs were poured for the residential wing. More steel and concrete structure work will be completed soon, then in July workers will start the exterior masonry.
“The exterior masonry is beautiful and complex,” Sapp said, noting that this work is expected to run into February 2020.
If weather cooperates, he said, the framing and roofing should be complete and windows installed by the end of July.
Sapp also expects that the plumbing, mechanical and electrical rough-in work will be at least half finished by then, too.
The two-story, Gothic-styled building is expected to be substantially completed in March 2020, Sapp said.It will include a chapel, classroom, library, conference rooms, a kitchen and refectory (cafeteria), faculty offices, and a guest room for speakers and visiting priests. It will also include 40 dorm rooms or “cells” for the college seminarians. The original plans called for 20 cells, but enrollment at the college seminary has already exceeded that number.
Opened in 2016, St. Joseph College Seminary has been a magnet for young men wanting to discern the priesthood. Enrollment growth has been faster than the diocese had anticipated, from eight students in its first year to 20 during the 2018-’19 academic year. The college seminary has attracted men from across the Charlotte diocese, with eight of the diocese’s 10 vicariates currently represented.
The growing interest in priestly vocations is welcomed by Bishop Peter Jugis, who has commented, “Although the number of priests serving our diocese has increased by 76 percent since it was founded in 1971, the number of Catholics has grown by 900 percent. Adding to that, we have had 13 priests retire in the last 10 years, and still 27 more are expected to retire in the next 10 years. Though we’ve been blessed with many good and holy priests, we need more to meet the needs of our rapidly grow-ing flock.”
Until the permanent college seminary building can be completed, students are living spread out across four temporary homes on or near the campus of St. Ann Church in Charlotte, and they commute to classes at Belmont Abbey College.
The completion of a permanent home for the college seminary can’t come soon enough, said its rector, Father Matthew Kauth. Living, working and praying together in community is an essential aspect of the college seminary program. He and Sister Mary Raphael of the Daughters of the Virgin Mother, which supports the college seminary and priests of the diocese, went out to the site recently to bury Miraculous Medals, St. Benedict Medals and palm branches all around the perimeter of the footings before the concrete was poured.
Fundraising for the project is also going positively, diocesan leaders report.
To date, more than $9 million – including two donors who committed a total of $3 million – has been raised through private donations towards the $20 million goal for the project, which will be the only college seminary located between northern Virginia and southern Florida.
Jim Kelley, diocesan director of development, noted that the campaign is going particularly well despite coming on the heels of the diocese’s unprecedented $65 million “Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love” campaign to fund current and future needs for all 92 parishes, as well as diocesan ministries and schools.
Kelley believes the St. Joseph College Seminary project is having positive results because of Bishop Jugis’ long-held commitment to nurturing vocations in the growing diocese.
“Bishop Jugis made vocations one of four priorities he set as bishop,” Kelley said. “He started Quo Vadis Days (a week-long discernment retreat for young men held each summer), which is bearing fruit with hundreds of young men taking part over the last few years.
“An outcrop of participation in Quo Vadis Days is St. Joseph College Seminary, to provide a place right here in the diocese for men who want to begin to study for the priesthood right out of high school.”
A 2019 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate survey of the Ordination Class of 2019 found that nationally this year’s ordinands on average began thinking about becoming a diocesan priest at the age of 15. And a previous CARA study found that 350,000 Catholic men had seriously considered the priesthood in high school but only 1,000 of those men entered formation after college, Kelley noted.
The building project is an outward sign of God’s hand at work in the diocese, Father Kauth said.
“As we have said from the beginning, the building simply helps us to build the man,” he said. “So while I am excited, I am yet more interested in the men who are being built. As beautiful and noble as the structure will be which houses them, I am confident that much more beautiful are the souls of the men who are graduating. Anyone who has contact with them would agree.”
-SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter