SacredHeart School of Theology is now among the 10 largest U.S. Catholic seminaries, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
Buoyed by an unusually large influx of new seminarians in the 2010-2011 school year, Sacred Heart went from 12th in the 2009-2010 school year to ninth in the most recent year – increasing from 97 men preparing for priesthood to 107. The ranking is published in the summer 2011 edition of The CARA Report.
Sacred Heart specializes in serving men of all ages, with an average seminarian age of 43. It has developed an international reputation of success in working with men who enter its graduate-level Master of Divinity Program after secular careers.
“During a time when seminaries are facing many challenges, we have focused on earning the trust of bishops, religious superiors and vocation directors across North America,” said the Very Rev. Jan de Jong, SCJ, Sacred Heart’s president-rector. “We work hard to constantly improve the quality of our programs, which are built around the directives of the U.S. bishops. At the same time, we offer the flexibility to make the most of our students’ highly diverse backgrounds,” he said.
Under Fr. de Jong’s leadership the seminary developed a comprehensive strategic plan, built around the core values of faith, authenticity, community, excellence and service. The strategic plan is driving improved quality assurance protocols and a range of other initiatives to sustain the school’s vitality and growth.
An important aspect of Sacred Heart’s growth has been its five-year collaboration with St. Francis de Sales Seminary. The Most Rev. Donald Hying, recently named AuxiliaryBishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, is the rector of St. Francis de Sales and works closely with Fr. de Jong to nurture the partnership whereby St. Francis seminarians receive the academic portion of their formation at Sacred Heart.
Enrollment at Sacred Heart is similar this year. Numbers reported by CARA are based on enrollment throughout the academic year, so a comparable number for the 2011-2012 is not yet known.