With a blessing and the sprinkling of Holy Water, Charlotte Catholic Bishop Peter Jugis on Tuesday helped to formally open a $20 million college seminary for prospective priests to serve a soaring Catholic population from Charlotte to the mountains.
St. Joseph College Seminary, on 86 acres in Mount Holly, houses the only seminary program of its kind from Washington, D.C., to Miami, diocesan officials said.
“St. Joseph is an extraordinary milestone for our diocese and for the Charlotte region,” Jugis said. “It’s a sacred place where those who feel called to serve God can be nurtured and grounded in faith that will carry throughout their lives.”
The seminary features Gothic architecture, 40 dorm rooms, a chapel and a meditative cloister walk, along with 30,000 square feet of living and learning space.
Its brickwork was inspired by the nearby Belmont Abbey, where in 1876 Benedictine monks planted Catholicism’s roots in Western North Carolina, diocesan officials said.
The diocese now has 92 parishes and missions in 46 Western North Carolina counties.
In the past decade, the Catholic population has mushroomed by double digits, to more than 400,000, according to the diocese.
Donors gave $15.5 million toward the seminary, with fundraising ongoing, diocesan officials said.
The seminary program opened four years ago in temporary quarters. Enrollment has since tripled, from eight students to 27 now in residence, according to the diocese.
You can lear more at the seminary’s website.
The video below shows the grounds as the construction was underway last spring.