It was a cool April morning, around 7 a.m., shortly after the seminarians prayed the Office of Readings in their Holy Cross Oratory. Suddenly came the sound of an excavator rolling in next to St. Maur Hall, positioning itself at the north end of St. Benedict Hall. Then, there was the sound of crashing, broken glass, and bricks falling. St. Benedict Hall had served our campus very well for many years, but it was to become the site of the new seminary dormitory, Good Shepherd Hall.
Many of the monks remember living in St. Benedict Hall when they first arrived as seminarians and have fond memories of their first night on campus. The memories remain, even though the building has now served its term.
The groundbreaking for the new seminary building took place on April 6, 2021. Throughout that summer, monks would frequently take their evening stroll to assess the construction progress. At first it was a large, carved-out section of dirt, rather difficult to imagine the brick and mortar which would fill the space. But, little by little, there was progress—the foundation, the framing, the brick, the drywall. And, soon it wasn’t hard to envision at all. It was towering right in front of us.
In August 2022, the seminarians were excited to return to campus. However, the new seminary dormitory was close, but not yet ready for occupancy. This news didn’t dampen their spirits at all, since they would soon experience a significant mid-semester upgrade. They initially moved into Marian Hall with their usual contentment, but a few weeks into the semester the date was set and a sign went up on the main bulletin board in St. Maur Hall: “Move-in Day: September 15.”
That Thursday morning, the seminary community celebrated Morning Prayer and Mass. Then shortly after breakfast, they packed up their belongings, put them on carts, and moved into Good Shepherd Hall. Nicholas Hickman, a senior seminarian who has now lived in four different buildings during his time in seminary, said, “Moving day was a day filled with excitement and great anticipation as we worked as brothers to make the great exodus from Marian Hall into the promised new building.”
“The rooms are very nice and spacious,” interjected one seminarian. “I really appreciate having my own thermostat to control the temperature, and the great view to the east of the soccer fields,” remarked Jessie Ortiz, as Nathaniel Boyd and Kaelob Marx nodded their heads in approval. Others chimed in that what they appreciate most are the private bathrooms. Willing to show off his room, Nicholas Hickman gave me a brief tour and allowed me to test out his comfortable sitting chair.
The seminarians now begin to live the vision of how this space is intended to enhance their experience of priestly formation. Through the deepening of fraternal bonds we hope they will support one another in serving as generous priests for all they will serve, ready to lay down their lives in imitation of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
— Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB
Director of Spiritual Formation