Society dedicates seminary

Published 1:14 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

More than 1,000 people from Buckingham County and around the world were part of a ceremony dedicating the colossal St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary off Ranson Road north of Dillwyn on Friday. A morning pontifical mass, luncheon, blessing of the bells and the buildings and tours were part of commemorating the 120,000-square-foot multi- winged seminary building.

Supporters came from across the United States for the event, according to Project Manager Father Steven Reuter, in addition to Mexico, Canada, France, Switzerland, Argentina, Austria, Germany and Australia.

“Everything went very well,” Reuter said. “We could not have asked for better weather or better attendance.”

Email newsletter signup

The celebration of the years-long $35 million project commemorated phase one of the overall plan — construction of the seminary and administration building.

“We are international; we are in the whole world,” said Lordship Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. “And, here in the states, we had a seminary in Minnesota, in Winona, which was too small.”

The impetus to build in Buckingham stemmed from the openness of the people, he said.

“Finally, we decided to build. And, we were so well received by the locals here that we thought, ‘That’s the place. So let’s start here.’ For us, we are a society of priests, one of our main concerns to form priests to education youngsters to become priests, Catholic priests.” Part of locating in Buckingham was the “special character of the place,” Fellay said.

View more photos at:  

Reuter said attendance of “faithful Catholics from around the world” was double of what was expected.

“Even those who had followed the project on the website were in awe of the size and beauty, telling us that the pictures and videos do not do justice to the building,” Reuter said.

During the event’s luncheon, the seminary’s rector, Father Yves le Roux, added, “(The) characteristic of America is generosity.”

He thanked the project leaders, seminarians and those who had labored on the project, noting support from Buckingham County District Six Supervisor and Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Joe N. Chambers Jr. and County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter.

He said Buckingham’s acceptance of the seminary came with “open arms and open hearts.”

“We quickly clicked with these people.”

According to its website, the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is a house of studies of the Society of St. Pius X, established in the United States in 1973, for the formation of Roman Catholic priests according to the traditional teaching of the Church. “St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary draws from the greatest riches of the 2,000-year history of the church in the formation of her priests,” the website reads.

“We now have to work very hard to get our permanent certificate of occupancy,” Reuter said of the seminary. “We also have lots of trim to install.”

The interior of the 1,500-square-foot administration building is yet to be completed.

The seminarians, Reuter said, “are here and trying to live their life of prayer and study in spite of ongoing work.”

The seminary was built “to last forever,” Reuter said in a previous interview, adding that a building of the seminary’s style had not been built in the United States for many years.

The building can house up to 121 seminarians, 10 professors and five guests.

“I think that the fact that you really see providence,” Reuter said of his satisfaction with the project. “God has allowed us, in spite of the economic difficulties, we’ve had all these generous people to help us (through) both donations and workers from other countries to make it happen.”

The seminary is off of Ranson Road at 1208 Archbishop Lefebvre Ave., Dillwyn. For more information on the seminary, visit or