US Seminary in Belgium Closing

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 22, 2010 ( A U.S. seminary operating in Belgium since 1857 will be closing its doors next year due to low enrollment and difficulty finding formators.

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The American College of the Immaculate Conception in Leuven, Belgium, announced it will be closing in June 2011, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reported today.

The American College is one of two European seminaries governed directly by the USCCB; the other is the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The Belgium college was founded in 1857 by the bishops of the United States with the dual purpose of training European men to serve as missionary priests in North America and of offering to American seminarians the philosophical and theological riches available at Europe’s oldest Catholic university in Leuven.

The USCCB reported that enrollment at the college is not at a sustainable level, and there has been a struggle to find qualified priests for the faculty.

«The seminary has served the Church in the United States and other parts of the world faithfully, steadfastly and zealously throughout its 154-year existence,” said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chair of the board of bishops of the American College, «and so this is a sad moment for many of us.»

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