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Archives Enrollment increases at Ohio seminary

November 16, 2022

Fall brought the arrival of 20 new seminarians to Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, an overall enrollment increase, and two new sending dioceses.

The seminary now serves 15 (arch)dioceses and religious orders: Birmingham, Cincinnati, Columbus, Fathers of Mercy, Gaylord, Jefferson City, Joliet, Kiyinda-Mityana (Uganda), Lugazi (Uganda), Oakland, Ogdensburg, Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Santa Fe, Steubenville, and Wheeling Charleston.

The Diocese of Ogdensburg has three seminarians in formation at the Josephinum: Deacon Lukas Gruber who is in his final year of study before ordination; Dennis Ombongi, a first-year Theology seminarian; and Venes Laine, a third-year Pre-Theology seminarian.

Bishop Terry R. LaValley served for a number of years on the Josephinum’s Board of Trustees, as both a member and chair.

“This year we’ve been blessed with one of the largest entering classes in many years,” said Father Steven Beseau, Josephinum rector/president. “But it’s not just about numbers, it’s also about the quality of the men. The Josephinum has a very rigorous acceptance process; we don’t accept everyone who applies. These seminarians would not be here if they weren’t good men. They really are exceptional and we are very blessed to have them.”

The formation of the Josephinum’s 60 seminarians is guided by ten full-time resident priest formators who themselves reflect the national character of the seminary, coming from the (arch)dioceses of Kansas City, Metuchen, Savannah, Chicago, Columbus, and Plymouth (England), as well as Institute of the Incarnate Word, the Dominican Order, and the Fathers of Mercy. Many full and part-time lay professors make possible an academic excellence for which the Josephinum has long been known.

“We have some of the finest professors in the country,” said Father Beseau. “This is seen not only in the classroom but also in the love and dedication they offer to the seminarians.”

Priestly formation consists of four dimensions – human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral – the integration of which is reflected in seminary life. The Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, Holy Hours, academic classes, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, off-campus pastoral formation assignments, formation conferences, one-on-one meetings with advisors and spiritual directors, and many recreational activities are all part of the seminary experience.

“Our seminary community is alive and growing,” said Deacon Gruber. “I’m grateful for my brother seminarians, who have answered the Lord’s call to enter the harvest field to discern a call to the priesthood. I know I am not the only one who is inspired and filled with hope when I see how faithfully they have responded to the Lord’s call.”

Seminary administrators are preparing to guide the institution into the future as it adopts a new comprehensive five-year Strategic Plan, currently under final review by the Board of Trustees.

Planning acknowledges the rising cost of seminary formation, reflected in the Josephinum’s highest-ever annual fundraising goal of more than $1.8 million.

“Funds are needed primarily for seminarian scholarships, to give seminarians the opportunity to discern and be formed,” said Father Beseau, “so that, if called to the priesthood, they are ready to respond as holy, generous, adaptable, and resilient priests.”

Appeal gifts also will fund program adjustments required of all seminaries by the new edition of the USCCB’s Program of Priestly Formation.

Independent of any one diocese or religious community, the Josephinum has a 134-year history of being sustained by the generosity of benefactors.

“The historic support of the Josephinum is remarkable,” said Father Beseau. “Helping to form future priests is an incredibly unique and deeply rewarding experience. It is a privilege to have so many people share in this journey.”

To learn more about the Josephinum’s mission, upcoming events, or to make a gift to support the seminary, please visit www.pcj.edu.


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