Leaders say ‘The Seminaries of Saint Paul’ better conveys institutions’ identity, mission

| October 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
The seminaries of St. Paul

FROM TOP Seminarians at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul listen to a lecture by Father Michael Becker in October 2015. Bishop Andrew Cozzens hands a certificate of completion to a graduate of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute May 15 at the St. Paul Seminary chapel. Members of the congregation applaud the Catechetical Institute graduates at the end of the May 15 ceremony. Seminarians at St. John Vianney carry a statue of Mary during the Candlelight Rosary Procession Oct. 5 at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. Deacon Joe Michalak carries the Book of the Gospels during the opening Mass of the Catechetical Institute Sept. 10. Seminarians react during the opening Mass of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity Sept. 4. A mixture of lay students, seminarians, faculty and staff gather for the seminary’s Sept. 4 opening Mass. Photos by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

He’s slightly embarrassed to admit it, but Bill Malkowiak didn’t know St. John Vianney College Seminary existed until 2010 when his then-pastor, Father Michael Becker, was appointed to serve as its rector.

Now Malkowiak is a member of its board of trustees and well versed in not only its program, but also those of the St. Paul Seminary, which forms aspiring priests in the years immediately preceding ordination. But he, like other seminary leaders, is convinced that his initial unawareness isn’t unique among local Catholics, even those deeply involved in the life of their parishes or the broader Church.

“There are many local Catholics who know of St. Paul Seminary and don’t know about St. John Vianney seminary,” Father Becker said. “We’re a little more hidden.”

In an effort to boost the community’s awareness of the archdiocese’s two seminaries and the programs they offer — including significant opportunities for lay formation — St. John Vianney and St. Paul Seminary are uniting under a single brand: The Seminaries of Saint Paul.

“It does increase our visibility,” Father Becker said of the new brand. It also conveys “the unity of vision between the seminaries in our formation,” said Bishop Andrew Cozzens, the St. Paul Seminary’s interim rector. The brand’s tagline, “Joyful Catholic Leaders,” “captures the goal of our formation process, which is not just for our seminarians, but also for all of our students,” he added.

Seminary leaders were expected to unveil the new brand Oct. 23 at the annual Rector’s Dinner. Until that point, St. John Vianney, St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and SPS’ seven institutes used different logos, fonts and color schemes, with little to visually indicate they are related. And there wasn’t a way to easily speak about the work the seminaries are doing as a whole.

“There were some really strong brands in place; what we lacked was a unifying effort across each of these individual activities,” said Malkowiak, who works in sales and marketing at General Mills and is a parishioner of St. Michael in St. Michael. “What has become apparent to me in my time working with The Seminaries of Saint Paul is that there is so much more going on here than I believe the average member of our archdiocese knows.”

In studying the question of brand recognition, seminary leaders found that St. John Vianney College Seminary, which serves college-aged men considering priesthood, is better known outside of the region, while St. Paul Seminary — the graduate-level seminary — is known better within the archdiocese. Meanwhile, the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, which includes graduate-level theology programs for lay students, has been flying under the radar for many local Catholics — even those engaged in their parishes and in the larger archdiocese. Many Catholics also didn’t realize that some of the St. Paul Seminary’s well-regarded institutes — especially the popular Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute, which forms lay men and women — were actually seminary programs.

‘JOYFUL CATHOLIC LEADERS’As Sarah Mealey interviewed stakeholders about their perceptions of the St. Paul Seminary and St. John Vianney College Seminary — and even the word “seminary” itself — she kept on hearing another word: “joy.”

“It just kept popping [up] — that there’s this tremendous sense of joy,” she said. “That joy is really emanating from the truth of the Church, the truth of the teaching, and most importantly, these are people who have a very close relationship with Jesus Christ, and you can feel it, and you can sense it. … What I really found is that this is a real gem, and what we have to do is convey that joy.”

That led The Seminaries of Saint Paul to choose “Joyful Catholic Leaders” as its tagline.

As Pope Francis expressed in his 2014 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” Christians are called to give witness to Christ with joy, Bishop Cozzens said.

“It’s meant to really mark the Catholic leaders of our age,” he said. “We need to be joyful witnesses so that people will be attracted to the Catholic faith today, and now perhaps more than ever we can show people that a life authentically lived in Christ and his Church can be joyful.”

From her own experience with the Catechetical Institute, Mealey observed that people “came in with … great intellectual interest, and came out on the other side on fire for the Lord, on fire for the Church, and felt called to live out their membership in the body of Christ in new ways — and I would say, very ‘leaderful’ ways,” especially at their parishes.

And she sees the same attitude among the priests and deacons the seminary forms.

“It’s not just happiness, it’s not just positive mental energy, it’s not just enthusiasm. Those words don’t capture it,” Mealey said. “It’s joy, and joy is divine, and joy is a sure sign of the presence of God.”

Despite the new name and logo — which features a navy blue shield with an archiepiscopal, or double-barred, cross — nothing about the institutions is changing, its leaders emphasized. The new brand reflects no tweak to the seminaries’ institutional structures or their relationships to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, on whose campus both seminaries are located.

However, it does reflect the way the major and minor seminaries have grown together in recent years. While they are independently incorporated, they merged their boards of trustees in 2010 and later combined operations.

Tom Ryan, the seminaries’ vice president for institutional advancement, echoed Malkowiak’s assessment of the seminaries’ situation before the new “umbrella” brand.

“It was difficult to talk about all the things going on without having one ‘umbrella statement’ to capture it,” he said. “[The new brand] was a way of unifying all of that work under one board, and certainly, an ‘umbrella’ to describe all of the good things happening between two seminaries. … What we’re doing is forming the next generation of lay leaders to serve our community.”

Archbishop John Ireland founded St. Paul Seminary in 1894. St. John Vianney College Seminary was founded in 1968. For years they existed as separate institutions serving men of different levels of study, with SJV serving as a natural pipeline into SPS, especially for priesthood-bound men of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Each seminary also forms seminarians from other dioceses. SJV is the second largest college-level seminary in the U.S., with 98 men representing 19 dioceses enrolled this year. St. Paul Seminary has 87 seminarians in formation from 14 dioceses and one religious community. More than 1,000 men and women are enrolled in SPS’ various programs.

“Together, we’re one of the largest formation centers in the United States,” Bishop Cozzens said.

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Sarah Mealey, a Catholic communications consultant in the Twin Cities, performed much of the groundwork, including interviews and surveys, that led to the re-branding. In 2015, Mealey was hired by then-rector of SPS, Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, who stepped down from his leadership position in June but continues to serve the seminary, and Father Becker to begin working on the branding project, which was an outgrowth of a larger strategic plan launched after the boards merged.

While new brands mean consistent fonts, logos and colors — now blue, bronze and gray — in letterhead, advertising and marketing materials, the goal is much larger, Mealey said.

“Branding, at the heart of it, is the way we can quickly and with impact relay the heart of the organization — who we are, what we do, what we’re about — and to invite people into the mission through that,” Mealey said. “It’s really good communications that’s pithy and to the point and where people can recognize it.”

The new brand conveys the seminary’s work at a time when it’s well positioned to be “a great, positive sign of hope” and “part of the solution [for] the future of the Church,” she said.

“There’s a lot of questions and frustration and sadness about what’s happening in the Church in respect to the sexual abuse crisis and in respect to abuse of power, … [and] the seminaries are an absolute bright spot,” she said. “So how do we communicate that in a way that [people] can really see this and come to want to be a part of it?”

The new brand’s tagline “Joyful Catholic Leaders” also aims to highlight that The Seminaries of Saint Paul are not just for future priests and deacons, but that their programs for laypeople are just as integral to its mission. Mealey is a Catechetical Institute graduate, and she said she experienced “wonderful ah-ha” moments throughout the two-year certificate program.

“You actually see that the Church herself is holy, and you understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together,” she said. “And there’s just truth and beauty and goodness.”

Ryan said he hopes the new brand conveys that the seminaries “cover the gamut” of formation, from the undergraduate seminarian to a priest who has been serving the archdiocese for years, as well as laypeople interested in a two-year certificate or a graduate-level degree.

“In a given year, we have [more than] 900 people — lay and ordained, men and women — in formation, and I hope that it shows the breadth and depth of all that’s taking place here at the two seminaries,” he said.

The new brand also indicates that the seminary’s work isn’t static, and that it’s increasingly becoming understood as a regional center for formation, Ryan said. One indicator of that is a new institute it’s launching in January 2019 for Catholic educational leaders.

“It’s going to provide a formation program that will equip current and aspiring principals not only with a vision and mission and how to create that culture within the school, but the practical skills to really run well a Catholic nonprofit in a really complex world,” Ryan said. “There is such an incredible need, even in the five-state region.”

The seminaries’ programs and services are needed now more than ever, said Tizoc Rosales, SJV’s development director who is also the associate director for institutional advancement for SPS.

“Inside the Church and outside the Church, forming good leaders has never been more important than now,” he said. “If we — the two seminaries — do our job right, we can really be a part of the solution to a lot of the challenges that face our Church and world today.

“This brand allows us to package that messaging of all these great programs and services and take it to the marketplace in a real succinct way,” he added. “And that really allows all of our constituents — from program recipients, to donors, to Catholics in the pew, to vocations directors [and] our ‘sending’ bishops to perspective Catholics — to see and get excited about all that’s going on at these two seminaries.”

For Ryan, something he was told by a branding expert sticks in his mind: “A brand is a promise, and a great brand is a promise kept.”

“‘Joyful Catholic Leaders’ is both aspirational as well as descriptive,” Ryan said. “I’m hoping that it’s a way for us internally and externally to rally behind that promise and do our best as disciples to fulfill that promise.”

Seminaries logo

ST. JOHN VIANNEY COLLEGE SEMINARY St. John Vianney College Seminary serves undergraduates who are considering a call to the priesthood. SJV’s seminarians attend the University of St. Thomas, and SJV’s building, which includes its offices and a residence, is located on the north end of its campus. Its rector is Father Michael Becker.

ST. PAUL SEMINARY St. Paul Seminary forms men for the priesthood in their final years before ordination. Men who attend St. Paul Seminary earn a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas through the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, and, like men at SJV, they focus on the four dimensions of formation: human, pastoral, intellectual and spiritual. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens is serving as its interim director until Father Joseph Taphorn steps into the rector role in January.

ST. PAUL SEMINARY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY The SPSSOD is a graduate school of theology at the seminary. While seminarians at St. Paul Seminary follow a separate course of study within the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the school offers three graduate degree programs in theology, pastoral ministry and religious education. Degrees are granted by the University of St. Thomas.

ARCHBISHOP FLYNN CATECHETICAL INSTITUTE Founded in 2008, the Catechetical Institute is a two-year certificate program for lay men and women who want to better understand the Catholic faith. The institute has recently expanded to the Diocese of St. Cloud and the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa.

INSTITUTE FOR ONGOING CLERGY FORMATION Founded in 2015, the IOCF provides ongoing formation for priests and deacons in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

INSTITUTE FOR DIACONATE FORMATION Founded 2010, this institute encompasses the formation for men, single or married, training to become permanent deacons in the archdiocese.

INSTITUTE FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Coming in January 2019, this new institute aims to prepare principals and administrators for leadership in Catholic schools.

ARCHBISHOP FLYNN INSTITUTE FOR HOMILETICS This institute provides resources aimed at enhancing seminary training in preaching.

MSGR. QUINN INSTITUTE FOR BIBLICAL STUDIES Founded in 2009, this institute brings Scripture scholars to the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity to teach, mentor and write.

INSTITUTE FOR THEOLOGICAL RESEARCH Founded in 2006, this institute coordinates the academic research, publications and conferences of the SPSSOD.


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