Enrollment doubles at Saint Joseph Seminary College


Saint Joseph Seminary College, located in Covington, La., welcomed a record 150 seminarians this year for the Fall 2016 semester, double the enrollment from just six years ago, when 75 seminarians enrolled.

Photo by Matthew Prosperie.

Saint Joseph Seminary College is a community of faith and learning in the liberal arts rooted in the Benedictine tradition that promotes the development of the whole person. The formation program fosters the commitment of seminarians to the Roman Catholic priesthood in accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Program of Priestly Formation. The Seminary College also supports preparation for service in lay ministries and makes available its educational and other resources to the local community.

Seminarians this year are representing 22 archdioceses and dioceses from seven states across the Gulf South region, including two dioceses new to the Seminary College this year: Brownsville, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn.

As part of the strategic plan to accommodate an expected surge in enrollment over the next several years, Seminary College leaders broke ground on a new library on Feb. 27, which would free up the current library to be used as a residence hall. Just 13 days later, the entire campus was devastated by flooding from the Bogue Falaya River.

In the midst of the disaster as well as unprecedented growth, Fr. Gregory Boquet, O.S.B, President-Rector of the Seminary College, was determined to ensure that not only would the seminarians finish the Spring semester on time, but that the campus would be ready for their return this month. While some classroom and dorm rooms have yet to come back online, modular units were brought onto campus over the summer.

“The commitment I have to making sure that these young men continue their education uninterrupted is only matched by their willingness to rise to the challenges we have encountered. I have faith that they will eventually, if not already, view these challenges as an integral part of their formation, preparing them to be a spiritual leader in their parish,” said Fr. Boquet.

According to one seminarian, the inconveniences of a campus still recovering are minute compared to the bigger picture.

“It seems to me that God doesn't take away our brokenness or burdens—He consoles us by taking them on Himself with us, which is way better. Consequently, our constant struggle becomes the very thing that calls down Jesus, that keeps us humble and One with Him. I see this in the Flood of 2016—which had no effect on our historical enrollment at the seminary.  And I think our community and fraternity of good men shows how the Church only flourishes in her weakness,” said seminarian John Guerra, a junior from New Orleans.

In addition to Brownsville and Nashville, seminarians this semester also hail from Atlanta, Ga.; Galveston-Houston, Texas; Mobile Ala.; New Orleans; Alexandria, La.; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; Beaumont, Texas; Biloxi, Miss.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; Houma-Thibodaux, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Lafayette, La.; Lake Charles, La.; Memphis, Tenn.; Shreveport, La.; St. Augustine, Fla.; and Victoria, Texas.

To help continue support the growing number of seminarians, the Seminary College will host its annual fundraising gala, Deo Gratias, Latin for “Thanks be to God,” on Saturday, Oct. 29, on the beautiful grounds of Saint Joseph Abbey. All proceeds from this event benefit Saint Joseph Seminary College. Visit here for more information or to register.