Having been a spiritual house for the Dominicans, and a place of priestly formation, the Brothers of the SSPX have maintained the Catholic legacy of Stockton Hill in Winona, MN. All are invited to gather at the Novititate on May 25-26.
Please join the SSPX Brothers for a weekend of prayer and recreation in Winona, May 25th and May 26th to celebrate 70 years of the Holy Angels Novitiate facility. The faithful are cordially invited to this "open house" and celebration as an opportunity to see more fully the work of the SSPX Brothers, and the beautiful changes made to the Novitiate.
Adoration, prayer, procession, conferences, camping, sports and much more has been planned for the faithful.
St. Peter the Martyr’s priory was built on Stockton Hill in 1949. It provided 92 bedrooms, with a large chapel and a huge refectory. But, 20 years later, the novitiate had vacated. The great Order of Preachers which had fought against heresy was assailed by changes in the Catholic Church and modernism. With their faith gutted out, the priory also soon empty, leaving behind only those resting in the cemetery.
The deserted priory was maintained for 15 years by former Dominican postulant Byron Bascle, watching over a “jewel” which attracted vandals. Moreover, the harsh Minnesota winters did not pardon the heatless building.
Peter Sardegna and Co, the Long Island coordinator, organized a large group of volunteers. They began sealing the roof, replacing the boilers, and, relentlessly tore down burst pipes, along with floor and plaster. 400 windows were eventually replaced and all the outer walls received fresh insulation. By early spring, Peter was relieved: “When we came, the building was soulless. Now, steam courses through its pipes again. She’s ready for battle. But now it’s up to the crew!”
Winona’s opening coincided with the 1988 Episcopal consecrations: “Most fittingly, a new and excellent property is about to host a new Excellency.”
The first impressions of Winona surpassed the dreams of its first year seminarians:
As the dusty van rolled in through an impeccably groomed landscape, we felt we were entering a religious domain. The first Mass was celebrated in the small convent chapel, and soon, after nearly two decades of inactivity, the large chapel was in public use again.On October 8, 1988, the seminary officially opened. The day was graced with Fr. Schmidberger’s assisting the newly consecrated Bishop Williamson, who blessed and sprinkled the outer and inner walls of the chapel in the midst of a jubilant crowd of faithful.
Three Decades of Priestly Formation
After 28 years and housing hundreds of young men in its walls, the seminary itself moved to its third American location in Dillwyn, VA, in 2016. The Superior General at the time, Bishop Bernard Fellay, decided that the Brother's Novitiate, which had been at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN since 2005, would remain there even as the seminary departs.
The fear that many had about silence again engulfing the magnificent Dominican-constructed edifice on the crest of Stockton Hill has been answered by the joyful spirit of the Brothers.
God Grant us Many Religious Vocations!