IGNITE to help St. Mary’s Seminary sustain their mission of preparing future priests, training deacons

May 22, 2018

The IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign will help sustain the mission of St. Mary's Seminary of preparing seminarians to serve the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. File photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON — For more than 100 years, St. Mary’s Seminary has provided a vitally important ministry to the local Church by helping thousands of men answer their call to the priesthood and ultimately follow in the steps of the first disciples.

Today, the need for shepherds in parishes is particularly urgent in a growing Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, according Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.

“St. Mary’s Seminary is where vocations are challenged, discerned and brought to fruition,” he said. “It is perhaps one of the most important places in the whole Archdiocese.”

The $150 million IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign, set to relaunch this fall, will help sustain the mission of preparing seminarians to serve the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and other dioceses in Texas.

According to Cardinal DiNardo, renewing the brick-and-mortar stones of the seminary will produce “living stones” in the seminary.

“This is where we train future priests and we need shepherds who are attentive, and will serve, lead and challenge,” he said.

The Archdiocese will allocate $30 million of the campaign to address all of the needs below:

• Refurbish the Plant Infrastructure: The outdated heating, cooling, mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure which support the basic systems of the over 60-year old campus required replacement. The urgent nature of the infrastructure projects necessitated that a new central plant and related systems be immediately installed throughout the existing campus.

To that end, a loan was taken from the Diocesan Savings and Loan Fund to complete this element. This infrastructure overhaul was completed in December of 2017 and the first proceeds of the Archdiocesan share will be used to repay this loan.

• Construction of a New Dormitory: A site-development plan has been designed that proposes a new dormitory building. The design will be such that the existing quadrangle courtyard is preserved and enhanced, and the architectural theme of the new construction will replicate those of the existing campus buildings. Additionally, the new dormitory will meet all current health, safety, fire and handicapped accessible building codes.

• Renovation of Two Existing Dormitories: After construction of the new dormitory is completed, the remaining funds will be used to renovate our two existing dormitories. Being over 60 years old, the two original dormitories do not meet current codes nor adequately serve the needs of the seminarians in formation. Once the renovations and new construction are completed, there will be adequate room for additional seminarians on campus, as well as housing for faculty, formation staff and visiting bishops, clergy and others.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, there were 73 seminarians studying at St. Mary’s Seminary, including 26 from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. In addition, St. Mary’s Seminary also serves as home to the Archdiocese’s Diaconate formation program and hosts the University of St. Thomas School of Theology, which serves the seminarians and the greater community at large.
An excellent theology and formation program, combined with renovated and up-to-date facilities, will give St. Mary’s Seminary a strong foundation to continue to be one of the most well-respected seminaries in the country.

“I’m grateful to Cardinal DiNardo’s commitment and to the prayers and support of the people of God for our seminary,” Father Trung Nguyen, St. Mary’s Seminary rector, said. “I’m proud of St. Mary’s because I graduated from this seminary and now as rector, because of all of the good things we are doing not only for our Archdiocese but for the universal Catholic Church.”

St. Mary’s alumnus Father Nicolas Ramirez, a parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Katy, said the life of the Church is very much influenced by its priests.

“It is a tremendous expense that people and the Church make in investing in men who are discerning this particular vocation,” Father Ramirez said. “I realize that none of this would be possible were it not for the generosity and the tremendous outpouring from people, not only in their financial treasure but because of their prayers. The people of God are so fervent in their prayers for us. Without them, there would be very slim to no hope for us to have these opportunities.”

Father Preston Quintela, a parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Houston and a St. Mary’s alumnus, said he was humbled when he was accepted to the seminary and how many people want to help him and other seminarians.

“People have this desire to serve our faith, help our priests,” Father Quintela said, “and build up the Body of Christ in the local Archdiocese.”