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Mount St. Mary’s Seminary Welcomes Men to Propaedeutic Stage of Formation

Donna Klinger

Blessed Stanley Rother House dedication

Twenty-nine men who have been called to seminary have moved into the Blessed Stanley Rother House of Formation, or Rother House, for the new propaedeutic stage of priestly formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Following a week of orientation, the Seminary held a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on August 22 in which Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, S.T.D., S’77, blessed every room in the building with Holy Water. The event, appropriately held on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, included Mass in the Rother House’s Mary, Mother of the Fairest Love Chapel.


img_3238.jpgThe propaedeutic stage is an initial year that all U.S. seminarians will complete, one focused “less on academics, more on growing in community and service, and cultivating virtue and a deep prayer life. It lays a strong foundation for the more intense academics and formation in seminary,” explained Rev. Daniel Hanely, the coordinator of the Seminary’s Propaedeutic Stage Program.

In opening remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Msgr. Andrew Baker, rector of the Seminary, noted that Rother House is located in the C wing of St. Joseph House, originally built in 1964 to be the home of hundreds of Daughters of Charity, many of whom received their initial formation in religious life in the C wing. The Daughters generously leased this space to the Seminary.

“We continue the legacy of the Daughters of Charity, their love for formation and education, and look into the future of the Church as we prepare these seminarians for further priestly formation. We could not have established Rother House without the support of the Daughters of Charity, to whom we are deeply indebted,” Baker said.

Archbishop Lori, who served as celebrant for the Mass and is chair of the Seminary Board, stated that a program being inaugurated on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, named for Blessed Stanley Rother, and located at the former home of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is certain to succeed. In his homily, he outlined the task for the men in the propaedeutic stage in 2023-24. Just as the Virgin Mary’s royal title did not come suddenly or easily and Blessed Stanley Rother faced many challenges before he achieved more as a priest than he could have imagined,  the men in the propaedeutic stage will be called to “expand and purify” their hearts so they can “advance God’s Word and purpose.”   Concelebrants were Bishop of Richmond Barry C. Knestout, S’89, Msgr. Baker, Fr. Hanley and Msgr. Charles Mangan, Rother House confessor.                                                                                                        

The propaedeutic stage is a response to a call that began in the 1990s with Pope St. John Paul II. Similar programs have been in place for seminarians in some parts of the world, including a handful of American seminaries. In 2017, the Vatican promulgated a revised version of a document titled “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” that made a propaedeutic year required worldwide.

To put Pope Francis and the Vatican’s call into effect, last year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released the 6th edition of the “Program for Priestly Formation,” including guidelines on the implementation of this stage in the U.S.

Hanley is particularly qualified to oversee the creation of Rother House. Before joining Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in January, he worked for the USCCB, helping put together the latest edition of the “Program for Priestly Formation.” As coordinator, he is in charge of mapping out the course of the propaedeutic stage for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

A typical day starts early with quiet meditation, morning prayer, Mass and breakfast. Midmorning, a few simple classes are held, mostly focused on spirituality, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and scripture. Lunch and dinner are eaten together, with afternoons spent in service to the wider community.

“We’ll have partnerships with a few local places, such as the National Shrine Grotto and a farm, and the seminarians in Rother House will do their own cleaning. Adoration will come before dinner, and then recreation until night prayer,” Hanley noted. The farmwork will be done at Good Soil Farm, owned by Stephen and Casey-Mae McGinley, both graduates of the Mount. Stephen McGinley is also a lecturer of philosophy.

Seminarians in Rother House are expected to mostly forego the use of phones, televisions and computers, and spend their days getting to know each other, themselves, and God better, getting the chance to further discern their calling before the later rigors of seminary.

“We’re just so grateful for the immense support Msgr. Andrew Baker, the Mount community and the Daughters of Charity have shown,” exclaimed Hanley. “We’re thrilled to welcome young men to Rother House.”

“Please pray for this endeavor, pray for the seminarians of Rother House, pray that we might witness a new flowering of vocations to the priesthood for the greater glory of God and for the good of the Church,” requested Baker in concluding his remarks.

Noelker and Hull served as architects for the Rother House project, and Morgan-Keller was the general contractor.

To learn more about the new program, visit

Donna Klinger