Amid plans for the future of the Philadelphia archdiocese’s historic Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, the seminary and Neumann University have announced a feasibility study into a possible affiliation agreement.
“While this agreement does not presuppose that the seminary will definitely affiliate with Neumann, it does allow both institutions’ academic leaders and others to meet openly and to discuss how such an affiliation agreement may work to benefit both institutions,” said the May 18 announcement signed by Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior of Philadelphia, the seminary’s rector, and university president Rosalie M. Mirenda.
The seminary’s board of trustees in May 2016 recommended that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia explore the possibility of affiliating the seminary with a local Catholic college or university.
The agreement between the seminary and Neumann University followed “an exhaustive and thorough process,” the announcement said.
Neumann University, located in Aston, Penn., about 20 miles outside of Philadelphia, is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. It has about 3,000 students enrolled total, 2,000 of whom are full-time undergraduate students. It is named for St. John Neumann, who served as Bishop of Philadelphia in the 1850s.
The seminary has been exploring whether to affiliate with a university and move its campus to new buildings on or nearby a partner institution’s campus.
In June 2016, Bishop Senior told CatholicPhilly.com that a plan to remain at the seminary’s present site would require $50 million in renovations to its upper campus. The seminary features massive three-story stone structures that date back 100 to 145 years. Its maintenance costs alone are $500,000 per year and still fall short of needs, he said.
“Is it really the best thing to put all that money into those buildings?” the bishop asked.
The seminary enrollment was at 128 in 2013, including seminarians from other dioceses and from religious orders, and increased to 142 in 2014.
Enrollment increased 20 percent in 2015 and 13 percent in 2016, with 160 students enrolling in fall 2016.
Pope Francis stayed at the seminary during his 2015 visit to the United States.