Sacred Heart Major Seminary


Founded in 1919, Sacred Heart Major Seminary is an institution of Catholic higher education primarily focused on forming priests while also preparing priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers for ministry in service to the Church in southeast Michigan and the world. The seminary property is owned by the Archdiocese of Detroit and the institution is governed by a board of trustees appointed by Archbishop Vigneron. More than 500 students, seminarian and lay, studied at Sacred Heart in the 2012-13 academic year. These included 120 men studying for the priesthood – the highest seminarian enrollment in four decades. They were joined by over 380 lay students, including men preparing for the permanent diaconate.


Archbishop Vigneron is continuing his Sharing the Light series with a look at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, one of the preeminent Catholic seminaries in the United States. To learn more, please see the bulletin.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

From its founding in 1919 to the present, Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit has responded to the Church’s ongoing call to prepare men for the priesthood. The primary mission of our Seminary is forming our future priests to share the gospel message and administer the sacraments of salvation. They celebrate the Eucharist, preach and teach the living Word of God, hear confessions, baptize and receive marriage vows, and anoint the sick and dying. The 2013-14 enrollment of 120 seminarians at Sacred Heart is the highest in four decades.

Sacred Heart also prepares deacons and lay ecclesial ministers who selflessly support our pastors who often serve without the help of an associate pastor and sometimes minister to the faithful in multiple parishes. For decades, Sacred Heart has educated and trained lay men and women for ministerial service to the Church of Detroit, their parish communities, and the world. In these times of great challenges to the Church and the faithful, our Seminary is an irreplaceable part of our ability to fulfill our archdiocesan mission priorities, especially increasing priestly vocations, evangelization and catechesis, and lay leadership development.

As a graduate, former dean, former rector-president, and current chairman of the Board of Trustees at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, I am passionate about the presence of Sacred Heart, as are my brother bishops in the Detroit Archdiocese, who teach, attended, or had leadership positions at the Seminary – Bishop Michael Byrnes, Bishop Arturo Cepeda, Bishop Donald Hanchon, and Bishop Francis Reiss. We are committed to strengthen Sacred Heart to respond to our Lord’s invitation to train the next generation of lay and ordained leaders who will proclaim his message of love and forgiveness.

I encourage you to learn more about Sacred Heart Major Seminary by visiting my Sharing the Light section on the archdiocesan website at

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit




Q1:    What is the history of Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

A1:    In 1919, Bishop Michael J. Gallagher founded Sacred Heart as a minor seminary to educate men for the priesthood. Ground was broken in February 1923 for a permanent seminary on what was then 17 acres of farmland at the corner of Chicago Boulevard and Linwood in Detroit. On June 17, 1923, the Detroit Times reported, “Thousands watched the laying of the cornerstone of the new $3 million Sacred Heart Seminary.” Construction was completed in 18 months and Sacred Heart’s first graduating class was in 1926.

For decades, Sacred Heart educated men in their high school and college years for the priesthood. As the number of students continued to increase in the Seminary’s high school and college programs through the decades, it became necessary to construct a separate high school building. The Cardinal Mooney Latin School was built on the southeast corner of the Seminary campus, opened in 1961, and closed in 1971.

From 1948 into the 1980’s, it was common for men graduating from Sacred Heart to attend St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township for their graduate studies. St. John’s continued its mission for forty years, expanding into the education and formation of laity and religious. As the number of seminarians in Michigan declined in the 1970s and 80s, the Archdiocese of Detroit obtained sole possession of the St. John’s property and facilities.

The Archdiocese designated Sacred Heart as its major seminary in 1988 when it added a Graduate School of Theology to Sacred Heart’s College of Liberal Arts. Seminarians at St. John’s transferred to the newly established graduate program at Sacred Heart, after which St. John’s was closed.

Sacred Heart Major Seminary is currently accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as well as The Association of Theological Schools, and works in cooperation with the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, in Rome.

Q2:    Who owns Sacred Heart Major Seminary? How is it governed?

A2:    The Archdiocese of Detroit owns Sacred Heart’s buildings, facilities, and grounds. Founded in 1919, Sacred Heart Major Seminary was incorporated in 1921. The Archbishop of Detroit serves as chairman of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, comprised of clerics and lay men and women appointed by the Archbishop. Sacred Heart also has a finance and audit committee, as well as an advancement committee that raises funds and generates resources for the institution.

Q3:     What is the role of Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

A3:    Sacred Heart is an institution of Catholic higher education primarily focused on preparing candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood, presenting for Holy Orders men who are spiritually grounded, intellectually vigorous, and pastorally prepared to engage in the Church’s mission of the New Evangelization. The formation of candidates for the priesthood, the continuous care for their personal sanctification, and constant renewal of their pastoral commitment is considered by the Church one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future of the evangelization of humanity. The Church’s work of formation is a continuation of Christ’s own work. “He went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. He appointed twelve to be with him, and to be sent out to preach” (Mk 3:13-15).

The formation program at Sacred Heart develops mature and holy priests who are thoroughly prepared for collaborative service in parishes. The Seminary is responsible for training candidates for the priesthood to be men with a strong priestly identity, a love for the people of God, and a desire to serve the world. In the 2012-13 academic year, Sacred Heart had 38 seminarians from the Archdiocese of Detroit studying for the priesthood, a process of learning and training that takes six to eight years. The Seminary has a fully accredited four year college of liberal arts and a fully accredited theologate (graduate school of theology), providing the last four years of study for candidates for the priesthood.

The Seminary is also engaged in forming lay ecclesial ministers, permanent deacons, and others who are spiritually, intellectually, and pastorally prepared for service in the Church.

In his 1990 encyclical Mission of the Redeemer, Blessed John Paul II challenged all Catholics and all Catholic apostolates to commit their resources to a “New Evangelization” of the Church and the world. Embracing the call to participate in this missionary mandate, in 2004 Sacred Heart began offering a new post-graduate degree in pastoral theology – a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) with a focus on the new evangelization.  The Seminary also began offering masters-level concentrations in the new evangelization. The goal of these programs is to form Catholics in mind and spirit to bring Christ in relevant ways to our increasingly secularized and often hostile culture.

The innovative STL program is the first of its kind in the United States. Students receive training in modern methods of evangelization, along with courses in Christian anthropology, Catholic social analysis, and spirituality. Graduates of the program – priests, religious, and laity – are prepared to lead efforts in the new evangelization in their parishes, dioceses, or ministries, as well as to teach at Catholic seminaries and universities. From 2004 through the 2012-13 academic year, 24 students have graduated from the STL program.

Q4:    What is the Seminary’s enrollment?

A4:    More than 500 students, seminarian and lay, studied during the 2012-13 academic year at Sacred Heart – 120 for the priesthood, including 38 from the Archdiocese of Detroit; 266 lay undergraduate commuter students; and 128 lay commuter students in graduate programs.

Fifteen priesthood candidates graduated from Sacred Heart in the 2010-11 academic year; 8 graduated in 2011-12; and 13 graduated in 2012-13. Seminarians at Sacred Heart are primarily from southeast Michigan. Others are from elsewhere in Michigan, throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad.

As of April 2013, 27 alumni of Sacred Heart have been elevated to the episcopacy (serving as bishops of the Church), the most recent of which was Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, appointed in July 2012 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as the bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. Bishop Monforton served for six years as rector-president of Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Statistics on enrollment and related details are published on the Sacred Heart Major Seminary website.

Q5:    What diplomas and degrees are offered at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

A5:    The priestly formation programs at Sacred Heart develop mature and holy priests prepared for collaborative service in parishes. Once solely devoted to preparing seminarians for ordination, Sacred Heart now shares its many resources with laity who collaborate with priests, men and women religious, and the lay faithful. Diploma and degree programs provide students with a rigorous, thoroughly Catholic education according to the mind of the Church, preparing them to become modern-day evangelists for the new millennium.

•    Certificate in Catholic Theology: Basic course of study in Catholic theology constitutes a partial fulfillment of the requirements for archdiocesan certification of volunteers and professionals in ministry; available in English and Spanish.
•    Post Graduate Certificate in the New Evangelization: An advanced course of study for post graduate students who wish to devote themselves to studies in the New Evangelization.
•    Basic Diploma in Music Ministry Program: Course of study in liturgical music ministry.
•    Basic Diploma in Catholic Theology: Course of study in Catholic theology; may be used as a component of the Associate of Arts in Ministry undergraduate degree.
•    Undergraduate Intermediate Diploma in Diaconal Studies: Academic preparation for those pursuing ordination as permanent deacons; students must meet academic requirements and the formational requirements of the Permanent Diaconate Program.

Undergraduate degrees:
•    Associate of Arts in Ministry: Two-year liberal arts/vocational degree in areas of Christian ministry for students desiring to become pastoral ministers, catechists, liturgical coordinators, or youth ministers.
•    Bachelor of Arts: Four-year liberal arts degree with a major in philosophy or pastoral theology. Designed to prepare those who will serve in ministry positions in the Catholic Church, including pastoral ministers, parish catechetical leaders, youth ministers, and others.
•    Bachelor of Philosophy: Two-year degree with a major in philosophy for students who already possess a bachelor degree; designed to qualify potential candidates for the priesthood and admission to a theological seminary; also open to commuter students who want to gain the philosophical and theological background critical to effective ministry.

Graduate programs:
•    Graduate Diploma in Pastoral Ministry: Constitutes a partial fulfillment of the requirements for archdiocesan certification; may be used as a component of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies Degree
•    Master of Arts Pastoral Studies (MAPS): Prepares lay faithful for ecclesial service; assists persons already engaged in Church service to deepen their competence, and offers a comprehensive program of preparation for ministry. Prepares professional ministers for pastoral service in supporting the spiritual journey of others. MAPS students choose among concentrations including pastoral ministry, health care, new evangelization, and spirituality.
•    Master of Arts in Theology (MA): The study of Roman Catholic theology, traditions, and contemporary theological perspectives for those interested in teaching and further graduate study.
•    Master of Divinity (MDiv): Central to the life and purpose of the Seminary, this program is designed for seminarians studying for the Catholic priesthood, and requires sponsorship by a diocese or religious institute. Specific requirements include scripture, Church history, systematics/dogma, moral theology, liturgy and the sacraments, applied theology, canon law, field education, sacred music, integrating studies, and electives.
•    Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology (STB): Open to all qualified students and designed to provide the theological competency required for advanced degree work. An ecclesiastical degree conferred by the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum) through the faculty of Sacred Heart.

Postgraduate programs:
•    Post-Graduate Certificate in the New Evangelization: Advanced studies beyond the master’s level with a particular focus on advancing the new evangelization; courses may apply towards the Licentiate in Sacred Theology degree
•    Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL): Explores the theology, spirituality, and history of evangelization for those desiring advanced theological education to teach or later to pursue a doctorate in sacred theology. Sacred Heart is unique among seminaries for a newly approved online delivery of the STL, in which students will have a series of intensive summer residencies combined with online courses throughout the year. An ecclesiastical degree in pastoral theology with a focus on the new evangelization. The Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome confers the degree through the faculty of Sacred Heart.

Q6:    What role does Sacred Heart Major Seminary have in preparing deacons?

A6:    Sacred Heart provides full academic preparation for men seeking to join the permanent diaconate. From 2001 through the class of 2013, 105 deacons have graduated from Sacred Heart.

Deacons are ordained for service to a diocese, appointments to which are made by a bishop and are usually to a parish, but they may also be to an institution or special apostolate of the diocese. These include parish service to the sick, aged, and dying; pastoral counseling; serving the widowed and divorced; youth and young adult ministries; prayer groups and support groups; religious education; assisting priests in liturgical celebrations (baptisms, marriages, proclaiming the gospel, preaching, presiding at prayer, communion and funeral services); evangelization; and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) sacramental preparation.

Specialized ministries in which deacons are involved include service to minority communities; service in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices; ministering to the chemically dependent; jail and prison ministries; providing spiritual support to the physically, mentally, and emotionally handicapped; engagement in social justice and peace activities; and working with the poor and marginalized.

Any man interested in becoming a permanent deacon should contact the archdiocesan Office for the Permanent Diaconate for information about the application process and formation.

Q7:    How many seminarians are enrolled at Sacred Heart?

A7:      A total of 120 men are currently studying for the priesthood at Sacred Heart, 48 in undergraduate and 72 in graduate programs. Of that total, the Archdiocese of Detroit has 38 seminarians in formation for the priesthood at Sacred Heart, a process of learning and training that takes six to eight years. The 37 seminarians in formation include 22 graduate seminarian candidates for the priesthood.

The Archdiocese of Detroit ordained four seminarians as priests in 2013. Seven archdiocesan priests are projected for ordination in 2014. Increasing vocations to the priesthood is a mission priority of the Archdiocese of Detroit, emphasized in Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Forward in Hope to Share Christ.

Q8:    What attracts lay students to Sacred Heart?

A8:    Students attend the Seminary for a variety of reasons. Some seek to nurture their spirituality and deepen their response to their baptismal call. They take their gifts to the workplace, serving in education, medicine, law, business, and other occupations. Others are enriched spiritually and theologically to live their baptism as volunteers in parishes, schools, and hospitals. Others serve as lay ecclesial ministers – pastoral associates, Christian service coordinators, youth ministers, chaplains, and in other ministries.

Not all students enrolled in Sacred Heart courses are degree or diploma-seeking.  Some take courses to enrich their knowledge of the Catholic faith and to become more effective evangelizers for the Church.  Many of these students take courses at parish satellite locations in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Others take online courses.

Sacred Heart also hosts dozens of meetings and conferences with more than 27,000 people utilizing Seminary facilities for these purposes in 2012.

Q9:    Where do the seminarians and students attending Sacred Heart come from?

A9:    Bishops and vocation directors worldwide choose trustworthy seminaries to form their future priests. As in other areas of higher theological education, lay people research the institutions best meeting their needs for formal training to become fully prepared and professional ecclesial ministers. More than 400 students at Sacred Heart are from Michigan, 37 are from other states, and 34 are from other countries.

In 2011, Sacred Heart welcomed 16 religious brothers studying to become priests for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). Based in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, this missionary society of apostolic life moved its house of studies from Rome to Sacred Heart Major Seminary, with all of its seminarians from the Americas now attending the Seminary for their priestly education and formation. Also in 2011, the Companions of the Cross, a society of apostolic life based in Ottawa, Canada, began sending its seminarians to study at Sacred Heart.

The SOLTs are in residence and providing pastoral leadership at Holy Redeemer Parish and school in southwest Detroit, as are the Companions at St. Scholastica Parish in northwest Detroit.

Q10:    How much does it cost to run Sacred Heart and where do the funds come from?

A10:    In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the cost of operating Sacred Heart Major Seminary was nearly $11,378,959. Reflecting Archbishop Vigneron’s commitment to Sacred Heart and the importance of its mission, the Seminary is the single largest recipient of archdiocesan financial support.

During the 2012-13 fiscal year, programmatic expenses for the Seminary totaled $6.2 million, which included faculty and staff salaries and benefits, academic and formational expenses, and student aid. Including gifts to the Changing Lives Together capital stewardship initiative specifically restricted to Sacred Heart, Seminary revenue in the 2012-13 fiscal year included $4,200,000 from student tuition, room and board; $3,800,000 in donor gifts; and, $1,300,000 in investment and other income. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, Seminary net assets increased by $3,100,000.

During the fiscal year that closed June 30, 2013, the Archdiocese of Detroit provided $6,754,593 in Seminary-related support, of which $4,651,373 was for maintenance, insurance, utilities, and other facility-related expenses. The Detroit Archdiocese owns and manages the Seminary building and grounds.  The Archdiocese provided the Seminary $1,170,000 in direct programmatic support and $933,220 in tuition assistance to Detroit Archdiocese seminarians in formation at Sacred Heart. The $6.75 million in archdiocesan support was offset by rent and food service income of $1,575,634.

Resulting from the archdiocesan Stewards for Tomorrow capital campaign that concluded in 1995, the Seminary receives annual allocations from the Archdiocese of Detroit Endowment Fund. Seminary operations receive 6.25 percent of the Endowment’s annual earnings distribution, which in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 totaled $139,991. Family and youth ministry programs at the Seminary also receive 6.25 percent of the Endowment’s annual distribution. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 these programs received $139,991 from the Endowment.

The Archbishop’s Stewardship Fund, a discretionary benevolent fund that enables Archbishop Vigneron to support individuals and organizations, receives 25 percent of the annual distributions from the archdiocesan Endowment Fund. From July 1, 2010 through June 2013, Archbishop Vigneron provided $51,434 to the Seminary and to students at Sacred Heart, including tuition assistance grants and loans.

Sacred Heart will ultimately benefit from the archdiocesan-wide Changing Lives Together capital stewardship initiative through campaign proceeds targeted for priestly formation and lay leadership training, much of which would involve courses and programs at the Seminary.

Q11:    What does it cost to attend Sacred Heart? How do seminarians and lay students pay for their tuition?

A11:    Full-time tuition for priesthood candidates in the current academic year (2013-14) is $16,900 per year for undergraduate seminarians and $24,500 per year for graduate seminarians.  Room and board for undergraduate and graduate and seminarians is $9,208 per year. Only seminarians live on campus at Sacred Heart – all other students commute to the campus for classes.

The current graduate commuter student tuition rate is $555 per credit hour and the current undergraduate commuter student tuition rate is $397 per credit hour.

In the 2012-13 academic year, the Archdiocese of Detroit sponsored 25 graduate seminarian candidates for the priesthood and paid for their tuition, room and board, and health insurance. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 seminarians received $914,000 in financial assistance from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Seventy-seven percent of students at Sacred Heart received financial aid in the 2011-12 academic year, utilizing more than 70 different funding sources. Financial aid disbursed by the Seminary in the 2011-12 totaled $1.2 million, including $568,000 from donor-established funds; $332,000 from federal and state sources; and $300,000 from archdiocesan funds including the Assistance for Catechetical Leaders (ACE) fund, Parish Empowerment Fund (PEF), Pastoral Ministry Grants (PMG), and grants from the Permanent Diaconate Office.

Additional financial support is available through the Seminary’s Fishermen’s Fund and other donor-established institutional funds. Established and supported by the laity, these funds ensure that no vocation to the Roman Catholic priesthood, diaconate, or lay ministry is hindered due to financial need. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 the Fisherman’s Fund distributed $143,000 for this purpose.

Q12:    How many faculty and staff are at the Seminary?

A12:    Sacred Heart has 34 full-time and 51 part-time faculty members. Seminary faculty, whether priests, religious, or lay, are committed to teaching with the mind of the Church, and distinguished by their faithfulness, professional credentials, and their pastoral concern. The Seminary has 18 full-time and two part-time staff members.

Q13:    What improvements have been made to Seminary facilities in recent years?

A13:    In 2009, a phased renovation of the Seminary’s third floor began, completing ten of 22 new residential rooms planned for seminarians in Immaculate Heart of Mary Hall on the northeast side of the Seminary’s main building, shuttered since the early 1970’s. The third phase of the project was completed in 2012, adding washroom and laundry facilities for seminarians adjacent to the new dormitory rooms. Expenses for this project totaled $945,000.

A February 2009 fire in the Seminary’s main chapel ceiling and subsequent fire control damage prompted a repair project costing approximately $900,000 with restoration and replacement work conducted on the ceiling, interior masonry, pews, stained glass, lighting, organ and other elements of the historic and architecturally-unique chapel. Some of the work was covered by insurance while a chapel restoration campaign provided additional funds.

Q14:    Are future improvements planned?

A14:    A comprehensive engineering analysis conducted on the exterior of the Seminary’s main building and grounds identified between $9 million and $10 million in maintenance and repairs to preserve the structure’s architectural and structural integrity. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the Archdiocese allocated approximately $350,000 to begin this and other work in phases, beginning with repairs to the exterior masonry and the roof, using materials consistent with the original construction such as copper gutters and slate roof tiles. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, the Archdiocese invested $500,000 to continue exterior work as well as to repair the Seminary boilers. Approximately $600,000 is being considered to continue work on projects identified in the engineering assessment.

Q15:    How many seminaries are there in the Archdiocese of Detroit?

A15:    Two Catholic seminaries are located in southeast Michigan – Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, which offers a formation program preparing men, primarily from Poland, for the ordained priesthood. SS. Cyril & Methodius also offers theological degree programs for lay people. Archbishop Vigneron serves as chairman of the board and appoints the rector of SS. Cyril & Methodius.

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