From the Desk of Fr. John Muir
It is an honor to share with you wonderful news: the Saint Mary’s“friary” (the residence in which the Franciscan friars lived since in the early 1950’s) is being transformed into a new seminary for the Diocese of Phoenix. The building sits immediately to the west of our beautiful church. I’ll expand this news with my own little “frequently asked questions”. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Why is this renovation happening now?
In early 2023, the Franciscans announced that they had discerned it was time to no longer serve at St. Mary’s after 127 years of fruitful ministry. This naturally raised the question, “What is the best use of the friary?” The building was designed for communal life and mission for nineteen men. Bishop Dolan was looking to expand the in-state seminary formation program from the first two years to the full seven years. The friary was seen as a wonderful fit for the two years of the college-age students, living in a house-hold environment and deeply integrated into parish and Phoenix life. It also honors and continues the building’s identity as a place of community, formation, and mission.
What specifically are the changes to the building?
The number of livable rooms will grow from nineteen to twenty-four. A few of the parish offices will be relocated from the west to the east part of the building. Individual bathrooms are also being added to the student rooms. Parish offices are reconfigured somewhat and freshened up.
How is the renovation being funded?
The Diocese of Phoenix is overseeing the funding directly, inviting donors to participate, and so on. Although there is a very close collaboration and planning between the Diocese and the Basilica, the parish is not directly funding the renovation.
When will the building be finished and ready for seminary students?
August of 2024 will see the first of two classes enter. The students will come from the “Spirituality Year” currently happening at the OLPH House is Scottsdale.
How will having a seminary house affect the parish?
The students will be a vibrant part of our community! We will live, pray, and work together in downtown Phoenix. As a parish family, we will have a certain kind of responsibility, along with their teachers and formators, in helping these men grow into the kind of people ready to serve one day as priests. No doubt help the parish in various ministries and service opportunities. It will be a special joy to walk with them on their journey.
Will the parish priests be responsible for the seminary?
The seminary will have one to two priests directly in charge of the seminary program. The parish rector, Fr John Muir, will not be one of those priests, although he will eventually live with them in community. Fr Matt Henry, our parochial vicar, will also live here and may provide some support to the seminary in addition to his primary role in the parish.
When can we see the project completed?
There should be some kind of ceremony, ribbon-cutting, and open house in the late Spring or Summer of 2024.
Does this seminary project affect or replace the ongoing plan to build an elevator and new bathrooms for the parish?
No. That plan is still on track. More on that to come.
Press Release from Bishop Dolan: Historic New Seminary in the Diocese of Phoenix
The Catholic Sun: News Story