You can help us form truly Catholic priests!
In conjunction with the recent secular holiday of Father's Day (observed on Sunday, June 21), the most recent Future Fund appeal letter of Fr. Wegner focuses on the priesthood and thereby our important New Seminary Project.
The letter and a photo gallery can be viewed below, or you can view the interactive PDF.
After a brutal winter in many parts of the country, spring is finally upon us. The beauty of nature and the new growth of this season bring to mind encouraging developments in the United States District of the Society of St. Pius X. As I visit priories, schools, chapels and missions throughout the district I am continually impressed by the optimism of the faithful and the vitality of parishes and schools. The world around us founders in its lack of faith, having thrown out any moral compass. But in this godless wilderness, our communities are Catholic havens and oases where weary souls may slack their thirst for God.
When I wrote last month about the history of St. Joseph’s in Armada, Michigan, I mentioned that Archbishop Lefebvre purchased this property in 1974 as the first American seminary. Now, 40 years and two moves later, an historic building project is underway to safeguard the future of priestly formation in the US. Given the importance of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary to the work of the Society of St. Pius X in this country, I want to share with you some details of this important endeavor and ask you to consider how you can help.
St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary and the US District of the Society of St. Pius X work in partnership to preserve and extend the work of Catholic tradition in the United States. The families, chapels, and schools of the US District nurture future seminarians in their early years, providing the fertile soil from which vocations spring. The seminary, in turn, forms solid Catholic priests who are needed to provide the sacraments, teach the Faith, run schools and parishes, and preach retreats. Thanks to the all-important work of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, we have priests who make a vibrant and traditional Catholic life possible in today’s modern world.
Outgrowing one building after another, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary moved from Armada to Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1979, then on to Winona, Minnesota in 1988. Consistent with the Archbishop’s desire to preserve and restore the priesthood, the seminary is a seedbed of formation for priests who will serve both in the US District and throughout the world. While we give thanks to God for the large number of vocations that have come through its doors in recent years, today the old seminary buildings are once again at full capacity. The seminary can no longer accept all of the young men who seek entrance. For the next academic year we already count 13 new seminarians and five religious vocations to the brotherhood. Who can tell how many vocations might be lost if their seminary entrance is delayed, perhaps even for years, because of a lack of space?
The new seminary building will solve this difficulty. Situated in rural Virginia, it will provide optimum conditions for the formation of holy priests faithful to the timeless traditions of the Catholic Church. This magnificent structure, designed to last at least 500 years, will serve as a vital part of the formation of holy priests. Remember that man is both a physical and spiritual being. He is influenced by his surroundings and cannot ignore the spiritual impact of the buildings in which he lives, studies, prays, and worships. This new seminary building is intended to lift the soul to God and to speak in a concrete way of the eternal truths of the Faith.
On a practical level, construction in Virginia is progressing rapidly. Phase One of the project, which includes the dormitory, classrooms, cloister, and administration buildings, is well underway. The construction of the seminary’s church will mark Phase Two and will commence once the priests and seminarians have moved to the new location. With the continued generosity of the faithful, it may not be long before this beautiful new structure can be put to its intended use.
As we enter the month of June, traditionally dedicated to fathers, I continue to look to the needs of the US district with a paternal eye. Just as our earthly fathers have a duty to look out for the present and future needs of their families, so I must look to the needs of the priests, religious, and faithful entrusted to me. Every week I receive requests from mothers and fathers pleading with me to open a chapel or school close to where they live. How will I start more mission chapels to serve faithful Catholics, many of whom live 100 miles or more from the nearest traditional Mass? How will I best provide schools for children who have no access to a solid education that is faithful to the traditions of the Church? How will I safeguard the spiritual welfare of souls in very large chapels and priories if I am short of priests? Where can I find the priests who will look after sick and elderly and stand by souls at the end of their lives?
Like our Lord, I lament the lack of workers for the harvest. Like a good father, I must gather and wisely allocate resources to meet these and other needs in an efficient manner. Among our most precious assets are our priests—and financial resources are needed to both care for them now and provide for the formation of tomorrow’s vocations. This responsibility requires care and wisdom in the use of funds to extend our work, support our priests, and bring the sacraments to the faithful.
For these reasons, I have been in more frequent communication with you about some of the exciting challenges we face. These challenges are daunting, but we must put our trust in God and consider the serious consequences for the Church and society if we miss these opportunities.
Ultimately, the crisis in the Church is a crisis of fatherhood—both an erosion of natural fatherhood and the decline in priestly vocations which necessarily follows on that erosion. Our spiritual father, Archbishop Lefebvre, founded the Society of St. Pius X first and foremost for priests. The continued and expanding work of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is an essential part of the Archbishop’s vision for the restoration of the traditional Catholic Faith, both in this country and throughout the world.
Please prayerfully consider a gift of $250—or more—to help complete this beautiful edifice dedicated to the formation of holy priests for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Will you join the thousands of other Catholics who are heeding this call to preserve Catholic Tradition for future generations?
With a father’s heart I remain, sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Jurgen Wegner
United States District Superior
P.S. In this month of fatherhood, please reflect on all that your spiritual fathers in the Society of St. Pius X do for souls. In honor of their selfless work, consider how you can play a part in this noble project dedicated to the formation of tomorrow’s priests.