Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, located in Weston, Mass., is a unique institution helping to meet this need. Named after the soon-to-be canonized Holy Father who died 50 years ago, it was founded in 1964 by Cardinal Richard Cushing with the encouragement and explicit blessing of Pope Paul VI. It is the only seminary in the United States preparing men 30 to 60 years of age that is also administered by diocesan priests.
A recent survey of new priests — 500 men were ordained this year — from CARA noted that the median age of the 2013 ordination class is 32, a slight increase from last year. The youngest to be ordained was 23, while the oldest was 69.
During the seminary’s almost 50-year history, 600 of its alumni have served in more than 140 dioceses and religious orders. Their current seminarians represent 31 dioceses and four religious orders throughout the United States and beyond.
By offering a unique preparation program to these mature seminarians, Blessed John XXIII is expanding the number of potential candidates for priesthood.
“These accomplished seminarians have already contributed to their communities through a secular profession,” says Father William Palardy, rector of Blessed John XXIII. “They come to the seminary from various backgrounds, such as law, medicine, business, education, sales, finance, social work and both government and military service. The diversity of life experiences shared by these mature candidates enriches both the seminary community and their future ministries in the Church.”
“The upcoming canonization of our patron, Blessed John XXIII, is something that we expected at some time in the near future, but we are especially pleased that he will be declared a saint during our 50th year as a seminary under his patronage,” adds Father Palardy. “After his canonization, whenever that will be, our seminary will change its name to either Pope St. John XXIII or St. John XXIII. We have not yet made a final determination about which title will be more appropriate.”
The Class of 2013 is representative of the diversity of men who come to the seminary to answer God’s call. The class included men originally from Syria, Haiti, Cuba and Vietnam and from a variety of career backgrounds, including a pediatrician, pilot, accountant, Department of Natural Resources adviser, teacher, counselor and two monks.