November 10, 2011, Huntington, New York – The Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre today announced the formalization of a joint operating agreement to create a single program for priestly formation for their three dioceses and beyond, a new program for the ongoing theological and spiritual enrichment of priests and permanent deacons, and a centralization of lay ministry programs to support the New Evangelization.
Beginning in September 2012, candidates for priesthood at the graduate level from the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre will participate in a single program of priestly formation at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, in the Archdiocese. The program of priestly formation currently at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, New York, part of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will move to Saint Joseph’s Seminary.
Concurrent with the single program of priestly formation located at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, New York, will begin the process of renewing and extending academic programs offered to lay women and men and some candidates for the permanent diaconate. Over the next year and one half, the Master of Arts in Religious Studies at Saint Joseph’s Institute for Religious Studies will come under the umbrella of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which will make new investments in distance learning technologies enabling courses to be taught in a variety of settings across the three campuses of Yonkers, Douglaston and Huntington.
“The joint operating agreement serves as a genuine expression of ecclesial communion and inter-diocesan partnership,” said the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. “It is truly an expression of the collegiality among the three bishops.”
“This historic agreement will help primarily provide a stronger experience of formation for men of the downstate area. By bringing the two programs together we will be able to offer a formation experience that integrates the best qualities of Immaculate Conception and Saint Joseph’s,” said the Most Reverend William Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre.
“This agreement establishes a system of formation for seminarians, priests and the laity in a way never before conceived, that recognizes where we are as a Church today and what the needs will be into the foreseeable future,” said the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
This announcement is the culmination of several years of planning and discussion among the three dioceses, and builds upon the program that was begun in September of 2011 when undergraduate and pre-theology students from the three dioceses came together in formation at the Cathedral Residence of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, New York.
A new institute dedicated to the ongoing spiritual and pastoral formation of priests will be located in the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. The Sacred Heart Institute for the Ongoing Formation of Clergy will have regular programs of theological and spiritual enrichment for priests and permanent deacons and will also include the new Verbum Domini (”Word of the Lord”) Preaching Institute, formation programs for international priests and special workshops for new priests.
The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception will also have formation programs for the laity and a retreat center as the Church seeks to better prepare members of the laity to be active participants in the life of the Church.
Each of the dioceses will retain ownership of their respective institutions, but each has agreed to establish a new council for joint episcopal oversight of the three formation programs, named the Saint Charles Borromeo Inter-diocesan Council for Spiritual and Theological Formation. Throughout the period of transition to these new arrangements and in the coming years, both seminaries will work with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to maintain their accreditation and act on previous recommendations of the two agencies.
CONTACT: Joseph Zwilling