ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. – 24 June 2009 – The Most Reverend William Murphy, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has named  Reverend Peter Vaccari, 57, the new rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, N.Y., it was announced today.  A priest from the Diocese of Brooklyn, Father Vaccari is a professor of theology and Church history and has served on the seminary faculty since 1988.  Father Vaccari, succeeds Rev. Msgr. James McDonald, who has served as rector since Feb. 2006 and who begins his new assignment as pastor of St. Aidan’s parish, Williston Park.

“He is a holy priest and a learned priest,” Bishop Murphy said.  “Long have I admired the depth of his culture as well as his outstanding gifts as a teacher and spiritual director and an example to seminarians.  Bishop DiMarzio and I have great confidence in him,” Bishop Murphy added.  A priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Father Vaccari has been on the seminary faculty since 1988. 

“He is a man of very profound spirituality,” said outgoing rector, Msgr. McDonald.  “He is an intellectual and a man of great kindness, a pastoral priest.  He is enormously respected, with vast experience with priests and seminarians and a tremendous understanding of the priesthood and the demands of the priesthood in the modern age.” 

Father Vaccari said he hopes to continue to lead the “growing, very rich community,” of the seminary in the tradition of the rectors he has worked with.  “I have been here 21 years and have experienced extraordinary rectors, starting with Rev. Msgr. John J. Strynkowski (rector from 1985-1995).  I am in awe of what they have done,” he said, naming his predecessors, Rev. Msgr. Vincent F. Fullam (1995-2001), Rev. Msgr. Francis J. Schneider (2001-2005), Rev. Msgr. R. Emmet Fagan (Nov. 2005-Feb. 2006) and Rev. Msgr. McDonald (2006-2009).

“Their love for the priesthood, seminarians, the men and women studying here and the faculty, is a tremendous example of how to build genuine community,” he said.  “I have experienced ways in which the seminary is involved in the larger life of the Church, and reflects in so many ways the universality of the Church.”

While the formation of priests is the seminary’s main focus, Father Vaccari points out it also offers master’s degrees in theology and pastoral studies and a doctor of ministry program to the public, and formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate.  The vocations office and diocesan archives are also located in the seminary.  The seminary hosts groups for retreats, including priests, confirmation students and participants in the Pastoral Formation Institute program.  The annual Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Denzer lectures bring prominent speakers and issues to the community.  The Friends of the Seminary host a monthly holy hour which has recently drawn large numbers of teens and college students.

In addition to serving the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, Immaculate Conception is the seminary for priests for the Eastern Province of the Vincentian order and has served in the formation of seminarians from other dioceses including: Kabale, Uganda; Tshumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Daejion, Korea and the Major Archeparchy of Trivandrum, India.
Raised in Our Lady of the Sorrows parish, Corona, Queens, Father Vaccari attended Cathedral Prep, Elmhurst; Cathedral College in Douglaston, and the North American College in Rome.  Father Vaccari was ordained June 5, 1977 and has served in three parishes in the Brooklyn diocese before returning to Rome where he completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.).

The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
Now in its 78th year, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, located in Huntington, New York (, is the Roman Catholic center of theological education and pastoral and spiritual formation on Long Island.  Established in 1930 for the formation of men to the priesthood, it maintains this responsibility as its primary work.  Responding to the needs of the local Church after Vatican II, it also serves men and women, lay and religious, preparing to assume ministerial roles within the Church and those who desire to deepen their knowledge of the Christian tradition and their living of the Christian life in the world. 

The Seminary offers Master’s degrees in Theology and Divinity, and a Doctoral degree in ministry.  Through all of its programs, the Seminary intends to foster a dynamic, collaborative relationship between ordained and non-ordained ministries in the Church and to contribute to the ongoing dialogue between the Christian tradition and contemporary culture.

About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre ( was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  The diocese serves approximately 1.5 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.4 million).  There are 133 parishes in 115 towns.  Last year over 17,000 baptisms, 19,000 confirmations, 17,000 first communions and 3,000 marriages took place in the diocese.  There are approximately 20,000 students in Catholic elementary schools; 13,000 in secondary schools and 3,500 in higher institutions.  There are 69 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese.  Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice.  Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 88,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island.  (12/08).

Contact, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Sean P. Dolan, 516-678-5800, ext. 625
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