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Archbishop blessed first new addition to Mt. St. Mary's seminary in 50 years

Posted at 11:29 AM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-14 14:28:16-04

CINCINNATI — Archbishop Dennis Schnurr dedicated and blessed a new $12 million building for The Athenaeum of Ohio seminary on Sunday.

The new building is the first addition made to Mount Saint Mary's in 50 years.

Fenwick Hall, named after the first bishop of Cincinnati, will have 30 individual residential suites for seminarians and guests -- a tremendous need for a seminary that had more than doubled enrollment over the last decade.

"It's a very exciting time, especially during the trials, that you see more young men coming in to serve the church to stand up and be the light of Christ amid these difficult times," said seminarian Michael Willig. He hopes to become a priest in two years, like his older brother, Father Jacob Willig.

The new addition comes during a time when priest abuse scandal -- including the arrest of Father Geoff Drew, charged with raping an alter boy decades ago -- have taken a toll on the church. Dealing with the impact of that case is one of many challenges facing a new generation of priests.

"These young men, they're humble enough they're not going to state it," said Archbishop Schnurr. "but I think truly that there's a bit of a sentiment there that, 'if you can't get it right, we will.'"

For seminarian Willig, becoming a priest is an act of complete faith that becomes more challenging during difficult times.

"Throughout the history of the church, there's always difficult times," he said. "Times of persecution, but then also a need for reforming and building up the Body of Christ. I think that is the inspiration that I will look to during these times."