Sacred Heart School of Theology will kick off a major multi-year upgrade of its landmark Franklin, Wis. building this summer with a renovation of its lobby and reception area, the seminary has announced. The project will update infrastructure and create a fresh new look for the seminary’s main public gathering space. It is the first phase of a proposed multi-year plan that calls for building a new conference hall and upgrading seminarian housing, all intended to enhance Sacred Heart’s ministry of forming men for the Catholic Priesthood.
The summer renovation will bring a light, contemporary look to the lobby, and will also provide needed upgrades to the facility’s energy efficiency and its HVAC and fire protection systems.
“This upgrade will allow us to outwardly reflect the vitality of our ministry. At the same time, we must be good stewards of the facility and make necessary changes for the long-term health of the building,” said Msgr. Ross A. Shecterle, the seminary’s president-rector.
The seminary, with its iconic round chapel, is considered a showpiece of the Mid-Century architectural movement. It was designed by architect Henry R. Slaby and completed in 1968.
Cosmetically, the lobby space will be brightened with a new ceiling profile incorporating indirect lighting, new wood paneling, and large glass panels that will replace dark wood panels over the existing balcony. Stone masonry that matches the exterior of the building will be added on two interior walls.
Plans also call for a new, modern reception desk in a more user-friendly location; a large, working masonry fireplace; new furniture; and new carpeting.
Infrastructure upgrades include new sprinkler and alarm systems, improvements to air handling systems, window upgrades, and some minor reconfiguration of interior walls for more efficient use of space.
The infrastructure work, in particular, anticipates future steps in a multi-phase renovation plan. The plan is based on a three year process that included input from seminarians, staff and the institution’s board.
Seminary leaders say they are optimistic they can raise funds to carry out the entire plan over a period of several years.
The second phase would be to build an addition that creates a 250-seat conference center. In addition to providing a modern meeting space for all-seminary events, this would greatly enhance the seminary’s ability to conduct public events and programs. Currently all-school assemblies require students to gather in a space in the Priests of the Sacred Heart provincial headquarters, which is in a separate building adjacent to the seminary campus. Large public events are currently limited to the seminary’s lobby.
The final phase would reconfigure dormitory space on upper floors to make the rooms larger and allow more natural light into the hallways.
Sacred Heart is an apostolate of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, who sustain the institution through substantial funding that augments tuition revenue. The Priests of the Sacred Heart will conduct a major fundraising appeal to the order’s faithful donors, along with alumni and friends – old and new – to pay for future phases of the renovation.
Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ, the superior of the U.S. Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, said, “SHST is a vibrant institution with excellent programs serving seminarians, priests, nuns, and other students from around the world. Our mission requires that we provide an up-to-date educational environment commensurate with the vitality of our programs.”
Shecterle added, “Sponsoring dioceses and religious orders across North America are grateful for the generous support that the Priests of the Sacred Heart have provided to their seminarians. More than 600 priests, now primarily serving in parish ministry in the United States and Canada, received their priestly formation here thanks to the financial support of the SCJs.” The priests of the Sacred Heart are often referred to as “SCJs,” from the Latin name of the order, "Congregatio Sacerdotum Cordis Jesu," or Congregation of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus. Fr. Leo John Dehon founded the Congregation in 1878.
Sacred Heart, in suburban Milwaukee, is North America’s largest seminary specializing in the formation of men over 30, with more than 30 U.S. and Canadian dioceses and religious orders using it for the formation of their future priests. It also provides an English-as-a-Second-Language-Program for about 40 international students – mostly priests and professed religious – each year; and a Master of Arts Program to prepare men and women for lay ecclesial ministry.