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Saint Patrick's Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California is a Roman Catholic post-graduate seminary whose primary mission is the formation of clergy for Western and Pacific Rim dioceses, orders, religious congregations and secular institutes. Since its founding, on September 20, 1898, during the episcopate of Patrick William Riordan, Archbishop of San Francisco, with a faculty of five priests of the Sulpician order and thirty-four young men, the seminary and university grown considerably. In over 100-years, it has prepared more than 2,000 priests who have served the various dioceses, orders, religious congregations and secular institutes of the western United States and the Pacific Rim. This school is governed by the Archdiocese of San Francisco in association with its other sponsoring western and Pacific Rim dioceses. The Archbishop of San Francisco serves as the President and Chancellor of the Seminary and University. The seminary and university is fully accredited as a graduate educational institution by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome.

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Early beginnings

After several failed attempts to establish a seminary under the title of Saint Thomas Aquinas during the episcopate of Joseph Sadoc Alemany y Conill, the first Archbishop of San Francisco, Archbishop Patrick William Riordan succeeded in establishing a new seminary in Menlo Park. The plurality of generous Irish laity as well as clergy led Archbishop Riordan to name the seminary in honor of Saint Patrick of Armagh, the Apostle of Ireland. By this time, the Sulpician order had committed five priests to staff the seminary, three Frenchman and two Americans. The first rector was Rev. Father Jean-Baptiste Vuibert, S.S. On August 24, 1898, the seminary was solemnly dedicated by Archbishop Riordan, joined by Bishops George Montgomery of Los Angeles and Thomas Grace of Sacramento, along with more than 100 clergy. On September 20, 1898 the seminary received 31 high school students and 3 college-level students. The first annual commencement exercises took place on May 31, 1899 and were presided over by Archbishop Riordan. As the seminary continued to develop, a Department of Philosophy was established with six students. In 1903, the Little Sisters of the Holy Family arrived from Sherbrooke, Canada, to take care of the domestic services such as cooking, laundry, cleaning.

Clerical formation

Students are admitted to Saint Patrick Seminary on the recommendation of their diocesan bishop or religious superior and only after intensive psychological testing and rigorous interviews. The program consists of four years of spiritual, academic and pastoral formation in residence. Following the second year of studies, a candidate undergoes a year of intensively supervised pastoral experience. Normally, a candidate is called to the diaconate by his bishop in the fall semester of his last year, for the purpose of functioning in local parishes for the remainder of that year before being called to the presbyterate.

All candidates undergo formation in a Sulpician tradition, part of which includes daily participation in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist, as well as spiritual exercises and special devotions. For continued studies at Saint Patrick's, all candidates must conform to the standards of moral and academic fitness required by the seminary in accordance with its directives and prescriptions for its program of priestly formation. Candidates deemed unsuitable for seminary life or for the priesthood are either put on probation or dismissed outright from the seminary community.

New Evangelization

In an interview with Catholic San Francisco, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, it was reported that one of the top priorities for Father Gerald L. Brown, rector of Saint Patrick Seminary, includes forming priests who will respond to Pope John Paul II's call for a new evangelization and share the Pope's enthusiasm to engage the world in dialogue. Father Brown noted that seminary leaders must learn new ways of finding and reaching out to men who may have vocations to the priesthood.

Scandal

While the majority of graduates of Saint Patrick have nobly served their dioceses or religious congregations in various ministerial capacities, three alumni and faculty have, over the years, been investigated or charged by Church or civil authorities for alleged sexual improprieties. On March 8, 2000, the academic dean at Saint Patrick's was arrested in Santa Rosa on charges apparently related to child pornography and sexual abuse. The dean was subsequently relieved of his duties at the seminary. An associate professor of systematic theology on leave from his assignment at Saint Patrick's was charged by the Marin County District Attorney with two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 for an incident some 18 years earlier. A monsignor alumnus of Saint Patrick with 29 years of service in the Oakland diocese allegedly touched children inappropriately leading to an apology to victims by the Bishop of Oakland.

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External links

Coordinates: 37°27′33″N 122°10′05″W / 37.45919°N 122.16808°W / 37.45919; -122.16808








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