cleveland catholic priesthood

Seminary Vocation Office

Diocese of Cleveland

28700 Euclid Avenue
Wickliffe, OH 44092

P: 440-943-7660

St. Mary Seminary

Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology of the Diocese of Cleveland prepares candidates for the Catholic priesthood while also serving as a center for advanced theological education.

Click to go to the St. Mary Seminary website

Institutional Convictions

These convictions are valued traits cultivated with our learning community that serve as desired outcomes across all of our degree programs:

Christian Discipleship − We value the transformation of each person into the image of Christ in response to the word of God and the Church’s tradition.

Formation − We value the renewal of the mind and heart for personal, professional and ecclesiastical growth.

Theological Thinking − We value the ability to think with the Church through the skills of analysis and critical reflection.

Communication − We value the ability to articulate theological ideas.

Collaboration − We value the development and use of personal and interpersonal skills, shared gifts in ministry, for the service of community building.



July 1848: The stables behind Bishop Amadeus Rappe’s residence at East 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue are renovated into classrooms and become Cleveland’s first diocesan seminary, St. Francis de Sales, with eight students.



August 1849: The seminary is renamed Saint Mary Seminary.



September 1850: Bishop Rappe purchases a new site for his seminary, a three-story frame building between Lakeside and Hamilton Streets, just east of East 17th Street.



1860: A new seminary is built at the same location and the complex of buildings serves as Cleveland’s seminary until 1923. The new seminary is occupied in September by the Philosophy and Theology Departments while the older buildings become the site of the Classics Department, Saint Mary College.



Early 1920s: Because the older building is deteriorating and the area is becoming more industrial, the decision is made to build a new seminary on diocesan property on Ansel Road, just north of Superior Avenue. The Ordinary, Bishop Joseph Schrembs, breaks ground for the new Seminary building on March 19, 1924. The cornerstone is laid in May, and the first classes enter the new seminary in November.



1929: Saint Mary Seminary has a six-year program: two years of philosophy and four years of theology.



1953: Archbishop Edward F. Hoban opens Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe as a high school and college seminary.



1954: Archbishop Hoban transfers the Philosophy Program from Saint Mary to Borromeo Seminary; since then, Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology has been exclusively a graduate theologate.



1962: On February 24, Saint Mary Seminary becomes an affiliate of Washington, D.C.’s Catholic University of America, and students are eligible to receive the ecclesiastical degree of Bachelors of Sacred Theology (S.T.B). This arrangement continues to 1970.



1968: On August 16, Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology is incorporated by the State of Ohio. On September 13, the school is granted a “Certificate of Authorization received from the Ohio Board of Regents” to grant degrees in theological studies (Resolution 1969 –13).



1969 – 1981: Members of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) vote associate membership status to Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology on January 15, and full accreditation was granted on January 14, 1971. On April 24, 1981, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the Seminary.



1989: Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, inaugurates a thorough and lengthy consultative process to determine the future direction of priestly formation within the Diocese of Cleveland. After examining all the available options, the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese, the consultative body of priests for the bishop, recommends the establishment of a ministry training center to prepare not only priesthood candidates but permanent deacons and pastoral ministers as well. The bishop accepts this recommendation, and he appoints a Transition Committee to oversee the establishment of what is now known as the “Center for Pastoral Leadership, Diocese of Cleveland.”



1990s: On September 5, Saint Mary Seminary moves to the site of Borromeo Seminary of Ohio in Wickliffe, Ohio, to join this new center. The Center for Pastoral Leadership houses Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology; Borromeo Seminary, which is now a formation program for college students; the Diaconate program; the Pastoral Ministry Office; and the Office of Continuing Education and Formation of Ministers. The five entities at the Center for Pastoral Leadership network and support each other while maintaining their distinct programs.

The seminary maintains consistent enrollment and does not see a flux in vocations. Several new faculty members replace those who retire, return to parish life or other ministries. The M.A. program experiences growth as the faculty develops new curriculum. The conversion from quarters to semesters makes the academic calendar compatible with area colleges and more convenient for lay students.



2000: Saint Mary Seminary receives permission from the Association of Theological Schools to grant the Doctor of Ministry degree, one of only a few seminaries to offer it. Ten students enroll in the first class. The program, intended for clergy and qualified lay persons, allows for an ecumenical dimension as well as a terminal degree for those in ministry who wish to continue their education.



2005: The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirms the accreditation of Saint Mary Seminary. Recertification is given from the Board of Regents of the State of Ohio to confer M.A., M. Div. and D. Min. degrees.



2006: The Most Rev. Anthony M. Pilla completes his tenure as the longest serving Bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland, having celebrated his 25th anniversary in January. Pope Benedict XVI announces the appointment of The Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland on May 15. Bishop Lennon serves as the Chancellor of the seminary.



2010: Saint Mary Seminary begins to see an increase in the Master of Divinity program as Vocation Director Rev. Michael McCandless cultivates programs for discernment. Crossing the Threshold, a monthly series for men at least 18 years of age that explores the theological, pastoral and personal issues concerning priesthood today; Duc in Altum,       a ‘Come and See’ weekend experience at Borromeo and St. Mary Seminaries for men between 17 and 44 years of age, offering the opportunity to experience life at the seminary; and work with parish youth groups (LifeTeen) create a culture of vocations and allows seminary enrollment to increase by 60% by the year 2014.



2011: The seminary revises the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts curricula to better meet the needs of seminarians.



2012: Rev. Thomas Tifft, Saint Mary Seminary President-Rector for 11 years, suffers a stroke and passes away. Fr. Tifft was a Saint Mary faculty member for 39 years, serving as academic dean, registrar and vice-rector before becoming President-Rector.

Saint Mary Seminary, in conjunction with Borromeo Seminary and Rector Rev. Thomas Dragga, begins a technology initiative. Seminarians and faculty members receive iPads and are given training with them as well as with ActiveBoards and videoconferencing in every classroom. The wireless environment of the seminaries serves to prepare seminarians to use technology for the new evangelization of the 21st century.



2013: Seminary Chancellor Bishop Richard Lennon, the search committee and seminary board of trustees decide that one rector should serve over both seminaries, Borromeo and Saint Mary. Rev. Mark Latcovich is named President-Rector.