Catholic seminary

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Disambig-dark.svg Seminary directs you to this article. For other uses of the term, see Seminary (disambiguation) .

Seminary seminars in Roman Catholic dioceses are training centers for candidates for the priesthood. The priestly education takes place in addition to the study of theology and aims to ensure practical areas of priestly education that are not the subject of academic-university theology. Religious men can also be trained in seminaries, but they are often trained in institutions within the order according to their religious spirituality.

Historical review

The basic idea behind the establishment of seminaries goes back to the “ Decree on the Sacrament of Priestly Ordination ”, which was passed at the Council of Trent . According to this, there should be at least one seminary in every diocese - formerly also called " clerical seminary ". This demand could not be realized in all dioceses of the Catholic Church, so that Pope Gregory XIII. (1572–1585) in Rome transformed several papal colleges into seminaries for the formation of priests and founded new seminaries. In the 16th century, Rome became the center of priestly education, with candidates for priesthood from the mission countries receiving special support. At the same time, the Jesuits had set up around 370 institutions in several countries that served the training and further education of their own religious priests as well as external students . At the end of the 16th century, as part of the Ratio Studiorum - a guide or instruction for learning - universities of the Jesuits and theological faculties were also established. In the 19th century a reform and reorganization of numerous seminaries began all over the world. This was co-founded by "the reserved attitude of many bishops towards the Tridentine seminary decree and the resulting monopoly of the Jesuits in clergy education". When he was Bishop of Eichstätt , Karl August Graf von Reisach became the “champion for a new, state-independent clerical education ”.

Candidates for the priesthood were "not allowed to go home even during the holidays" because "apostasy even in Catholic families and clergy" was feared.

In 1917, Eugenio Pacelli , who would later become Pope Pius XII, received a general instruction that ordered him to take care of the training of priests and theology. With regard to the formation of priests, “it was criticized that theological formation did not take place in-house […]. Therefore, the alumni are exposed to heterodox teachings and dangerous contacts with students from other faculties. "

Today the candidates for the priesthood receive their spiritual and theological training predominantly in church educational institutions . Germany and Austria are among the few countries that also maintain theological faculties at their state colleges or universities.


The educational institution, which is known today as the seminary, was only born after the Tridentinum. The Jesuits and the Sulpizians often specialized in running seminars. Particularly in times of crisis in church history, it was common for religious, not diocesan priests , to serve as heads of seminaries. The oldest seminary that teaches north of the Alps after the reforms of the Council of Trento is the Collegium Willibaldinum in Eichstätt, built by Jesuits in 1564 .

Present-day seminaries

The present seminary was defined in the Council Decree of the Second Vatican Council on the formation of priests ( Optatam totius , 4):

“The seminaries are necessary for priestly formation. In them, the entire training of the alumni must aim at shaping them into true shepherds according to the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher, priest and shepherd; They must therefore be prepared for the service of the word so that they understand the revealed word of God better and better, become familiar with it through meditation and present it in word and life; for the service of cult and sanctification, so that in prayer and in the practice of the sacred liturgy they perform the work of salvation through the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments; for the service of the Shepherd, so that they can represent the man Christ, who 'did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mk 10:45; cf. Jn 13,12– 17  EU ), and that they become servants of all and win so many (cf. 1 Cor 9:19  EU ). "

Seminar forms

Two different forms of seminar training are common in the German-speaking area:

  1. Separation between theological and practical training
    1. Theological training takes place in a theological convict , mostly in close cooperation with state universities.
    2. The pastoral seminar serves to guarantee practical liturgical training, based on a theologian convict.
  2. Association of scientific-theological and pastoral-liturgical training
    1. The full seminar as a union of the functions of the two above training centers.

Theological convict and pastoral seminar

A theologian convict ( Latin convictorium ) is a church home attached to a university in which Roman Catholic candidates for priesthood are trained. The difference to a dormitory or student residence is that the residents of a Konvikt receive a spiritual and pastoral training in addition to the theoretical study at the university in the Konvikt. Theological convicts only exist in those dioceses in which the theological - university training phase (first to fifth year) and the pastoral - liturgical training phase (sixth to eighth year) are separated into theological convict and pastoral seminar. In dioceses that do not make this separation, both phases of training are completed in the seminary. These are called full seminars .

The theological convict is under the direction of a director, often assisted by repetitioners , and a spiritual . The diocesant theologians usually spend at least two semesters in another university location, the so-called externitas, in the course of their studies, like the candidates for priesthood, in which they do not live in a seminary, but privately and check their willingness to maintain the priestly way of life.

In terms of church law, theologenkonvikte are identical with seminaries, the purely practical distinction is only common in Germany.

Full seminar

The full seminar is the combination of both of the above institutions in one complex. The seminary is under the direction of a rain (partially supported by a sub- rain ) and a spiritual . Canon law prescribes that seminarians are instructed in the seminary for at least four years (can. 235). Ideally, there should be a seminary in every diocese; where this is impossible, the seminarians are entrusted to a non-diocesan seminary or sent to a supra-diocesan seminary (can. 237). In Germany there is the "free year": usually the seminarians spend two semesters in the course of their studies at another university location, where they do not live in a seminary but privately and check their willingness to maintain the priestly way of life even without institutional control.

Interdiocesan seminary

Dioceses that do not have enough candidates for the priesthood to maintain their own seminary often send their candidates for the priesthood to an interdiocesan seminar supported by several dioceses ( Latin seminarium interdioecesanum ), also known as a regional seminar . If this happens within the framework of a church province , one speaks of a metropolitan seminar .

In Latin America and the Caribbean , the vast majority of seminaries are regional. It is important that the bishops agree on the spiritual direction of the regional seminar and on the course content.


CIC can. 241.1 stipulates that the diocesan bishop may only accept candidates into the seminary who, due to their human, moral, spiritual and intellectual disposition, their physical and mental health and also their right intention, appear capable of permanently devoting themselves to spiritual offices. The diocesan bishop often delegates the reception of a seminarist to the rain. The decision on admission to deacon or priestly ordination rests with the bishop. In October 2008 the Vatican adopted new guidelines for admission to the seminary, which are based on the guidelines of the dioceses of the German Bishops' Conference.

daily routine

Prescribed and voluntary prayer, study and meals determine everyday life in the seminary, but the difference from seminar to seminar is extremely large. In some, the Liturgy of the Hours , Holy Mass, and meals are mandatory, in others there are few obligations.

Well-known seminars

The currently most occupied German seminary is the interdiocesan study house St. Lambert in Lantershofen ( Ahrweiler district ) with currently over 60 alumni from the German dioceses and numerous religious orders . Among the rulers of this seminar were today's bishops Felix Genn and Stephan Ackermann .

Well-known cross-diocesan seminaries in the German-speaking area are the Pontificium Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum de Urbe in Rome, the Canisianum in Innsbruck and the Sankt Georgen seminary in Frankfurt am Main, all of which are under the direction of the Jesuit Order . For this, the coming seminary Leopoldinum in Heiligenkreuz (Lower Austria), the Ducal Georgianum in Munich and the International Seminary of St. Peter the Fraternity of St. Peter in Wigratzbad . There are Redemptoris Mater seminaries under the direction of the Neocatechumenal Way in Berlin-Biesdorf and Bonn-Endenich.

In Ireland the Saint Patrick's Seminary near Maynooth is very well known, in France St-Sulpice de Paris , in North America the Mundelein Seminary of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Chicago ; the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and St. Joseph's in Dunwoodie ( Yonkers ) historic seminaries. A traditional style seminary ( Our Lady of Guadalupe ) opened in 1993 in Denton, Nebraska . In France, the formation center of the Association of St. Martin at Blois is one of the youngest and most dynamic seminaries in the country.


  • Erwin Gatz (Ed.): Priest training centers in the German-speaking countries between the Enlightenment and the Second Vatican Council with ordination statistics for the German-speaking dioceses (= Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history / supplement; 49). Herder, Rome / Freiburg i. Br. / Vienna 1994, ISBN 978-3-451-22567-3 .
  • Cristiano Marchegiani: Struttura e immagine del seminario tridentino. Indicazioni sull'edificio dalle origini al Settecento. In: Rivista di storia della Chiesa in Italia. Pontificia Università Lateranense, Rome, LII (1998), 1, pp. 73-110.
  • Leopold Mathias: The Vienna Seminary: Its emergence in 1758 and its change through the centuries . University of Vienna, Vienna 1975.
  • Seweryn Maksymilian Bojanowski: Aspects of spiritual and human education in the seminary according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the provisions of the new canon law . Diploma thesis Vienna 2001.

Web links

Wiktionary: Seminary  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Erich Garhammer : The priest training - an interjection! Why completely new ways are necessary. (pdf; 29 kB) In: Münster Forum for Theology and Church. July 8, 2020, p. 3 , accessed July 10, 2020 .
  2. Erich Garhammer: The priest training - an interjection! Why completely new ways are necessary. (pdf; 29 kB) In: Münster Forum for Theology and Church. July 8, 2020, p. 4 , accessed July 10, 2020 .
  3. Erich Garhammer: The priest training - an interjection! Why completely new ways are necessary. (pdf; 29 kB) In: Münster Forum for Theology and Church. July 8, 2020, p. 5 , accessed July 10, 2020 .
  4. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 237.
  5. Osvaldo Santagada: Formación sacerdotal según el nuevo código de derecho canónico . In: Revista Javeriana , Vol. 52 (1984), pp. 325-346, here p. 329.
  6. Vatican wants psychological tests for candidates for priesthood. In: . October 30, 2008, archived from the original on December 2, 2008 ; accessed on July 10, 2020 .