St. Joseph Seminary and College will mark its 125th anniversary by hosting a series of celebrations beginning Sept. 16 with a Mass and picnic on its campus in the Dunwoodie section of Yonkers.
Cardinal Dolan and his partner diocesan bishops, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre, will celebrate the liturgy in the seminary chapel.
A softball game between clergy and seminarians is expected to be a highlight during the outdoor picnic on the seminary grounds.
Other anniversary events scheduled in the fall include an anniversary lecture for the wider community with Catholic theologian and apologist Scott W. Hahn on Oct. 1. Dr. Hahn is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
The seminary’s annual Advent and Christmas concert will be an enhanced celebration featuring local choirs joining the seminary Schola to perform sacred music on Dec. 4 and 5.
The anniversary program will continue in 2022 with a Feb. 3 lecture by the eminent biblical scholar, Msgr. John Meier, which will serve as a retrospective of his scholarship at St. Joseph’s Seminary, The Catholic University of America and the University of Notre Dame. The audience will primarily be invited members of the clergy and seminary alumni.
A closing Mass and gala for the anniversary year is planned for March 24, honoring alumnus and former rector Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien.
Cardinal O’Brien, a member of the Class of ’65, served two tenures as rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, 1994-1997 and 1985-1989. Ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, he was ordained in 1996 as an auxiliary bishop of New York before serving as Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, 2012-2019, Archbishop of Baltimore, 2007-2011, and Archbishop for the Military Services USA, 1997-2007.
Auxiliary Bishop James Massa of Brooklyn, who is in his first academic year as rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, told CNY that the anniversary celebrations would emphasize the seminary’s expanding mission, which includes permanent diaconate formation as well as lay formation.
The bishop also noted St. Joseph’s “interdiocesan character,” which has developed since 2011 when the St. Charles Borromeo agreement was signed by the leading prelates of the Archdiocese of New York and the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre.
Bishop Massa, who was one of the primary architects of the agreement, said the seminary currently “serves many of the dioceses of the region.”
“We hope to continue that expansion and to help form future Catholic leadership for the Church of the 21st century,” he said.
The first academic year of St. Joseph’s Seminary began on Sept. 21, 1896, more than five years after Archbishop Michael Corrigan laid the cornerstone on May 17, 1891. For the first decade, priests of the Society of St. Sulpice, or the Sulpicians, directed the seminary. In 1906, the Archdiocese constituted a new administration and faculty, composed largely of archdiocesan priests.
St. Joseph’s has been visited by two popes: St. Pope John Paul II, who celebrated Vespers with the seminary community on Oct. 5, 1995, and Pope Benedict XVI, who led a large youth rally for seminarians and young people on the seminary grounds on April 19, 2008.
Since 2013, St. Joseph’s Seminary has served as the degree-granting institution for all diocesan-sponsored master’s degree programs in lower New York state.
Speaking of his first year as rector, Bishop Massa said the word that comes to mind is “generosity.”
“I’m privileged to serve a community made up of many generous men and women who seek to give their lives in service to the Church, and to share their gifts in service to the Church.”