The new seminary project explained

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

By Father Yves le Roux

Some Buckingham residents may have noticed a large structure going up near Dillwyn. It may resemble one at present but, no, it is not a medieval fortress. The building is to be our new seminary.

A seminary is a specialized college that forms Christian pastors. Ours is a Catholic seminary and as such forms Catholic priests. But this description is inadequate.

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Ours is more exactly a “traditional” Catholic seminary. In times past this adjective would have been redundant: To say “Catholic” was to say “traditional.” Today this is no longer the case.

The 1960s marked a time of unprecedented experimenting and updating in the Catholic Church.

The intention of Church officials was good, no doubt. In practice, however, so drastic were the changes that many Catholic traditions were abandoned altogether. The outcome of this renovation has been regrettable to say the least.

In the United States, from 1965 to the present, there has been a near 90 percent decrease in the number of seminarian students, and this when the country’s Catholic population has increased by over 50 percent during that interval!

In spite of this trend, however, our seminary has had unique success. Our current seminary in Winona, Minn., is filled to the brim.

The building was constructed to house no more than 80 individuals. This year alone we have 36 new students!

The total count is now 100 students exactly, with another 10 professors on top of this.

Why such success? We believe in the wisdom of time-tested tradition. In fact this is the very purpose of our congregation, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) — the restoration of the Catholic priesthood.

Our congregation was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Before the 1960s, Lefebvre had been a missionary in Africa for over 30 years.

He spent much of that time building churches, orphanages, schools and hospitals. He knew very well the power of a traditional priestly formation.

His success only continued with the SSPX. Spanning 65 countries, our congregation now numbers over 600 priests.

Escaping the Midwest winters was not our only motivation for coming. We wanted to be closer to our country’s origin. Having our new home in a state so linked to our country’s foundation now unites our love of God with our love of country in the same campus.

Our beautiful and spacious 1,000-plus acres will provide us with a much-needed relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The quiet atmosphere here is an ideal setting to foster in us a continual awareness of the presence of God.

Our seminary is primarily a house of prayer and is sure to bring many blessings to the community.

The locals taking part in its construction have already begun to reap some of the benefits.

We anxiously await our move next summer. Virginia has been very welcoming so far, and we can only hope to return the favor.

So, please, feel free to visit St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary once we arrive. Our “fortress” is not meant to keep people out.

Come to our mass, which is sure to be a new experience for most.

When we are spotted walking through town, do not be shy. We dread the thought of being outsiders and will do what we can to avoid such a fate.

FATHER Yves LE ROUX is the rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary and the conceived the plan for the new seminary in Virginia. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1996. His email address is