The College Seminary Program
In 1905, Archbishop James Quigley founded Cathedral College of the Sacred Heart as a minor seminary with a five-year curriculum. This was a day school; the truncated course of study would keep the commuter students busy. When Archbishop George Mundelein arrived in Chicago in 1915, he desired to have both a major and minor seminary with academic programs recognized by the Vatican and also by the State of Illinois. Quigley Preparatory Seminary was dedicated in 1917. Its academic program was the equivalent of four years of high school and one year of undergraduate college work.
St. Mary of the Lake Seminary opened in Mundelein, Illinois in 1921 with a six-year major seminary program. In 1929, St. Mary of the Lake obtained the ability to bestow pontifical theological degrees accredited by the Vatican. Its Illinois charter allowed it to bestow the B.A. in Philosophy with state recognition. In order to bring the academic program of the seminary into closer conformity with civil standards, a third year of undergraduate work was added to the Mundelein program in 1940. From 1940 through 1961, a Chicago seminarian would do one year of undergraduate work at Quigley and three years at St. Mary of the Lake, resulting in a B.A. in Philosophy that was recognized by both the Vatican and secular authorities.
Quigley Preparatory Seminary and Niles College
The ever-growing number of high school seminarians prompted the expansion of the high school seminary and the end of the five-year course of study Quigley. In 1961, Quigley Preparatory Seminary North and the new Quigley Preparatory Seminary South opened as four-year high school programs. At the same time, St. Mary of the Lake Junior College opened in Niles, Illinois with a two-year course of undergraduate study. Seminarians would now spend four years at Quigley, two years at Niles, and six years at Mundelein.
In 1968, St. Mary of the Lake Junior College academically affiliated with Loyola University Chicago, a relationship that continues to this day. Now renamed Niles College Seminary of Loyola University, this new college seminary completely replaced the college program at St. Mary of the Lake. Seminarians would now spend four years at Niles College, where they would receive seminary formation and take the philosophy courses required for graduate level theological study. At the same time, they had the opportunity to major in nearly any of the fields of study offered by Loyola University, take some of their courses on the Loyola campus, and earn their undergraduate degree from Loyola. Niles College Seminary remained in operation from 1968 until 1994.
A NEW NAME and a new place: saint joseph college seminary
In the autumn of 1994, the college seminary program changed its name to St. Joseph College Seminary and moved to the Lake Shore Campus of Loyola University, occupying Campion Hall, a former Loyola dormitory building. This new location allowed students to benefit even more fully from the college seminary’s affiliation with Loyola by giving them greater access to the programs and opportunities offered by a major university in an urban setting.
a New Seminary Building
As the number of students residing on the Loyola campus increased, the university wished to reclaim its former dormitory. The need had also become apparent for a building that would include a proper chapel, provide seminarians with greater access to information technology and be more energy efficient. With the full backing of His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Loyola University Chicago, and our Board of Advisors, ground for the new Saint Joseph College Seminary was broken on August 28, 2012. Over the course of two years, the building was built purposefully to be a seminary. In June 2012, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary was formally consecrated by Cardinal George, who also blessed the entire building.
Several months later, in August of 2012, the seminarians, staff, and priests of Saint Joseph College Seminary moved from their space in Campion Hall to the new seminary building. In addition to the beautiful chapel, this new multi-purpose space includes a refectory where the seminarians gather for meals, areas for private study, classrooms for courses taught in-house, an exercise room, and student lounges for each residential floor. It is our sincere hope that our new building will assist in the formation of many future priests for years to come.