Much of the credit for Denver's current surge in seminarians is due to the foresight of former Archbishop (now Cardinal) Francis Stafford.

In 1990, Archbishop Stafford learned that a local Vincentian seminary that had served the archdiocese since the early part of the century was closing its doors. He quickly moved to purchase the property for Denver.

The move was a bold one. On the one hand, he didn't want to see the beautiful old seminary lost from the Church. But when the archbishop indicated that he would like to reopen it to train seminarians for Denver, some wondered at the practicality of his plan. After all, a major diocesan seminary hadn't opened in the U.S. since the Second Vatican Council.

Against the odds, the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary opened for business in 1999. To honor the occasion, Archbishop Chaput issued a pastoral letter on the priesthood in which he outlined the role of the priest in the modern world and the program of studies, prayer and discipline his seminarians would undertake to face it.

At the end of the letter, Archbishop Chaput made a plea: “ We need priests,” he said, adding, “God will surely send them.”

Reflecting on the letter now, Archbishop Chaput said, “I'm confident God is going to give us what we need if we just respond to his graces. I'm not in a position to dictate to him the number, but that's my prayer. God is not going to give me what I want, he's going to give us what we need.”

— Brian McGuire

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