By SueAnn Howell
BELMONT, N.C. (CNS) – The Diocese of Charlotte is establishing a college seminary in response to growing interest in priestly vocations.
The St. Joseph College Seminary will be what the Catholic Church calls a “minor” seminary, as its focus is undergraduate men considering the priesthood, one step before enrolling in a “major” seminary where they receive more specific priestly formation.
It will give these men the opportunity to live closer to home, continue their college studies while in community together, and interact regularly with diocesan vocations staff.
On March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis formally announced the creation of the college seminary during the bishop’s Lenten youth pilgrimage at Belmont Abbey College.
Starting this fall, the college seminary will be temporarily located on the campus of St. Ann Church in Charlotte, but there are plans to build a permanent home on or near the campus of the Benedictine-run college.
Bishop Jugis’ announcement greeted with cheers and applause by the youth at the pilgrimage.
He encouraged young people to listen and see if God is calling them to religious life.
“If you think that God is calling you, you are not alone,” he said. A growing number of young people in the Charlotte Diocese are discerning vocations to priestly or consecrated life, he said. “God is calling. God is indeed calling, and the Holy Spirit is at work.”
He also asked the youth to ask St. Joseph and Mary to pray for us, “to help each one of us know our vocation.”
Bishop Jugis, a native of the Charlotte Diocese, played an active role in selecting the name of the college seminary. Placed under the patronage of St. Joseph, the name also reflects the heritage of the diocese. When it was carved out of the Diocese of Raleigh in 1972, its first bishop was Bishop Michael Joseph Begley.
Already, nine men are expected to enter the college seminary for the 2016-17 academic year, attending classes at Belmont Abbey College while living temporarily in the former St. Joseph Monastery on the St. Ann campus.