Amongst various seminary events of 2014 at La Reja, 3 new Society priests were ordained on December 20th.
Here in North America, being the frequent recipient of news from St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, we may tend to forget that the SSPX actually has another seminary just southward in Argentina—though we have reported on its activities in the past. Thus the occasion of announcing the joyful news of three new priests ordained at La Reja provides us with the opportunity to give some historical background of the seminary and related some events that occurred there in 2014.
The Seminario Nuestra Senora Corredentora (Seminary of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix) is situated just outside the town of La Reja, about 30 miles west of the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires. Though graced today with a magnificent Spanish Colonial chapel, the seminary had some very humble beginnings.
The South American seminary was founded in 1980 and located in the Society's Buenos Aires priory. By the end of the year though, it became apparent that the priory would be impractical for the increasing number of seminarians. Thus that same year, an intensive search was made of the surrounding Buenos Aires area for a suitable property.
After many prayers to St. Joseph, a large property was found with several buildings that could—with some remodeling—provide the requisite seminary facilities for the 1981 academic year. With just a few months to complete the necessary renovations, work began immediately in December with the conclusion of the seminary year. Thanks to Providence, the work was successfully concluded by March, just in time for commencement of the 1981 seminary year.
Efforts continued to complete the buildings' exteriors (which included construction of a small bell tower) for the forthcoming August visit of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. While at Le Reja, the archbishop gave the tonsure to several seminarians, the habit to an oblate sister and ordained a South American priest who had studied at Econe. Also during his visit, the archbishop laid a cornerstone for the seminary's continued expansion, which began a couple of months later and included a peaceful cloister and inner courtyard for meditation.
Archbishop Lefebvre visited the La Reja seminary several times, most notably in November 1985 to perform the first priestly ordinations held there. A hightlight of this occasion was the presence of the "Lion of Campos", Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, who had come from Brazil and also laid his episcopal hands upon the new priestly ordinands. Shortly after this visit to the South American seminary, Archbishop Lefebvre was interviewed and asked what he thought about its development in relation to the other SSPX's seminaries:
The seminary at La Reja has the great advantage of being constructed according to a total plan. There were no existing buildings, and therefore we were able to construct the seminary exactly as we liked. It is very favorable for the formation of the seminarians and for the development of their piety and recollection."
Part of the overall plan was the construction of a new seminary chapel which was consecrated on December 8, 2001. Just two days later on December 10th, the first priestly ordinations (of three Argentinian deacons) were performed in the new church by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta, former rector of the La Reja seminary.
Since then, the Seminario Nuestra Senora Corredentora has continued in its legacy of forming priests for the SSPX and the year 2014 was no exception as reported on the South America District website. In addition to brief outline, we offer below a chronological gallery of images depicting these sacred events at the La Reja seminary.
The first event occurred on August 24 when Bishop Bernard Fellay gave the cassock to several young men, who also made their engagement into the Society of St. Pius X: the first step in their life as a seminarian.
Next on October 4, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais administered the clerical tonsure to some seminarians and then ordained others to the minor holy orders (porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte). An acolyte, Rev. Mr. Luis Cuervo, was also ordained a subdeacon, thus "taking the step" (literally in the ceremony itself) into the major holy orders.
Finally on December 20th, Bishop Fellay ordained the aforementioned subdeacon to the diaconate, while the object of the seminary's formation was obtained by three deacons who were ordained to the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, namely:
- Fr. Felipe de Echazu (of Argentina)
- Fr. Fernando Monckeberg (of Chile)
- Fr. Santiago Villanueva (of Argentina)
Another noteworthy event in 2014 concerned the brothers' novitiate for South America that is also at the La Reja Seminary, though this actually occurred over a two-day period in conjunction with the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron of the Society's religious brothers. On September 28th, two novices made their first vows of religion, while on September 29th, another four brothers renewed their vows; thus the South American seminary now has 6 "angels of the community" to act as a source of prayer and edification for those being formed in the priesthood.
As always, we ask that you please keep the various priests, seminarians and brothers of the SSPX who are situated throughout the world in your prayers.