St. Pius X Seminary

Welcome to St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College!

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St. Pius X Seminary is associated with Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, and operated under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The seminary provides a full undergraduate education and preparation for theological seminary. In addition, it provides a pre-theology program for students who have already acquired a bachelor's degree but do not have the academic background required for admission to a theological seminary. Both programs follow the guidelines set out by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in its Program of Priestly Formation, 5th Ed. In the terminology of that document, St. Pius X Seminary is a collaborative diocesan seminary.

History Loras College was founded in 1839 by Bishop Mathias Loras as St. Raphael Seminary. Later it became St. Bernard Seminary and in 1873 began to occupy its present location as St. Joseph College. The college was renamed twice: Columbia College and eventually Loras College.

Keane Hall on Loras Campus

As the college developed into a four-year liberal arts institution, the seminary program remained an integral part of its mission. It was called either "the Loras College Seminary" or simply "the Seminary Department." Seminarians were housed in the principal college residence, Keane Hall. In 1954, "North Hall" (later named Rohlman Hall) was opened as a residence for seminarians and the name "St. Pius X Seminary" was adopted. At that time the seminary was also canonically erected. Until 1960, various college officials were in charge of the seminary program but at that time a Rector, Vice-Rector and Spiritual Director were named. In 1973, due to the decline in numbers of seminarians, Rohlman Hall was turned over to other uses and seminarians were housed in regular college dormitories, as had been the case prior to 1954. St. Pius X thus became a "seminary without walls," its students continuing to take part in all the necessary activities of priestly formation appropriate to their level but not residing together in a specific location. The seminary remained a canonical entity in spite of this unusual situation. In the fall of 1996, the seminary program was expanded to include a two-year formation period for pre-theology students, that is, seminarians who already have at least a bachelor's degree but who lack the necessary undergraduate credits for entry to the first year of theology. A temporary residence for these students was established on the first floor of Smyth Hall. In the fall of 1997, an off-campus residence was established at the nearby St. Anthony Parish. In 2003, this residence moved to its present location on Mt. Loretta Ave., adjacent to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. Over the years, the seminary at Loras College has been instrumental in the education and formation of hundreds of priests for the dioceses of Iowa and surrounding states. It counts over 30 bishops, living and deceased, among its alumni.

In order to fulfill this mission, the following specific goals are pursued:

  1. Provide for spiritual growth through individual spiritual direction, the fostering of a life of prayer and active participation in sacramental life.
  2. Provide the opportunity for personal human growth, community life, seminary conferences, and when deemed helpful, psychological assessment and counseling.
  3. Provide, for undergraduates, a liberal arts education leading to a bachelor's degree and, for all seminarians, a sound foundation in the philosophical, theological and linguistic areas described in the Program of Priestly Formation. The seminary fosters, through its own seminary academic advisor, a well-rounded academic formation.
  4. Foster an understanding of the nature and forms of priestly ministry.
  5. Foster an understanding of the mission of the Church and loyalty to that mission.
  6. Foster a sense of mutual support and community among the seminarians.
  7. Encourage appropriate opportunities for seminarians to work and interact socially with other college students.
  8. Promote pastoral formation through participation in ministries and service both on and off the campus.
  9. Provide an ongoing evaluative process to assist the seminarian in his continuing discernment and to assist his diocese in making decisions about advancement toward priesthood.
  10. Render assistance to those still in the process of discerning a possible call to priesthood.

Dinner at the Vianney HouseSummary of Program Elements

  1. Participants must submit to the Rector the requisite documents for admission. First and second year candidates normally participate in the program as associates, while third and fourth year and pretheology candidates are admitted as seminarians. See ADMISSION.
  2. Participants take part in the seminary's program of spiritual formation and the weekly formation meetings as described under SPIRITUAL AND HUMAN FORMATION.
  3. At any time in his course of studies, the participant may begin to fulfill the academic requirements described under INTELLECTUAL FORMATION. Undergraduates will ordinarily require the customary four years in order to obtain a bachelor's degree and to fulfill the academic requirements necessary for entry to theological seminary. Pre-theology students will normally expect their program to extend over two years. However, the requirements are adapted to meet the variety of student needs.
  4. Participants are required to participate in a ministry or service activity each semester as described under PASTORAL FORMATION.
  5. Participants must submit the appropriate documents for their annual evaluation. See EVALUATION.
  6. Associates (first and second year undergraduates) normally reside in ordinary student housing on campus. Seminarians (third and fourth year students and pretheologians) reside together in an off-campus residence. See COMMUNITY LIFE.

For acceptance into the St. Pius X Seminary program, a student:

  • May be evaluated psychologically by the college Counseling Center or sponsoring diocese.
  • Must be enrolled at Loras College or accepted for enrollment.
  • Must provide a recent certificate of baptism and confirmation.
  • Must provide appropriate references.
  • Must be interviewed and approved by the Rector and Vice-Rector.
  • Requires a formal letter from his Bishop or religious superior endorsing his participation in the program.
  • Must sign and give to the Rector a "Consent to Disclose" form giving permission for the sharing with bishops and vocation directors any information or documents pertinent to his evaluation.

Students enrolled at Loras may be admitted provisionally pending completion of these procedures. Participants in the first and second year are normally admitted as associates, while third, fourth and pretheology participants are admitted as seminarians.

Spiritual and Human Formation
The human and spiritual formation program aims to help the participant reach a level of development that will enable him to participate successfully in priestly formation at the theologate level. In this process, the participant is introduced to the Catholic heritage of prayer, devotion and spiritual practice.

The spiritual program, supervised by the Director of Spiritual Formation, is comprised of the following elements:

  1. Daily participation in the Eucharist, both in the seminary residence and as part of the Loras College community.
  2. Daily celebration of the Liturgy of Hours, both in the seminary residence and as part of the Loras College community.
  3. Special conferences, semester retreats, and other opportunities for spiritual and human growth
  4. Biweekly meetings with an approved priest spiritual director, correlated with weekly reflections from formation meetings
  5. Regular reception of the sacrament of penance (at least monthly)
  6. Weekly formation meetings.
  7. Weekly time for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, during which Spiritual Conferences are offered.
  8. Marian Devotions (esp. the Rosary) in the months of October and May.;

The weekly formation meetings focus on the following topics, specified by the Program of Priestly Formation:

  • Prayer and the Sacraments
  • Human Development
  • Priesthood
  • Vocational Discernment
  • Theological
As part of a preparation for living a celibate life, dating is not permitted for seminarians or associates in the program.

Intellectual Formation
Central to the academic formation of all associates and seminarians is the study of philosophy. The study of undergraduate theology is likewise essential, especially for those who lack adequate catechesis in the faith.

If a degree-seeking student does not select philosophy as a major, he is encouraged to select a major other than religious studies. The major field selected should have a strong liberal arts component. Participants should fulfill the curriculum below, specified by the Program of Priestly Formation. Specific degree requirements can be tailored to the needs of the individual participant and/or the needs of his diocese or religious institute.

Students entering the seminary program after having completed an undergraduate degree (“pretheologians”) normally will be enrolled as a “second degree” student at Loras.

Pastoral Formation
The pastoral formation component of the program aims to introduce the participant to the practical, pastoral life of the Church. Participants work under the direction of the Vice-Rector and a supervisor at the level of the pastoral experience itself. This component includes the following:


  • Engage in an off-campus service or ministry activity during each academic year.
  • At least once during the participant's stay at Loras, take part in a college-sponsored service trip, with a follow-up written theological reflection.
  • Participate in campus life organizations or perform other on-campus service.


  • Participate in an approved pastoral activity of the Church, especially parochial ministry.
  • Undergo evaluation by the on-site supervisor regarding the participant's pastoral effectiveness and his areas of potential growth as a pastoral minister.

For Both:

  • Participate in theological reflection sessions, which help the seminarian integrate his spiritual life, his theological studies, and his ministerial experience.

Vianney House LibraryCommunity Life
ASSOCIATES normally live in approved college housing. They are expected to take part in appropriate community activities associated with ordinary college life. In addition, through common worship and prayer, formation meetings and special social events, they develop a sense of community with other seminary members.

SEMINARIANS are normally required to live in the Vianney House residence. This experience of a seminary community plays a significant role in the human and spiritual growth of the pre-theologian. Such community living provides mutual support, promotes forbearance and fraternal correction, and provides an opportunity for the development of leadership and talent. Furthermore, the community of prayer provides spiritual support for the pre-theologian as he continues to discern his vocation to the priesthood. For more information, see Vianney House Rule of Life.

An evaluation of the participant's progress is made each year. The Rector composes an evaluation, to be sent to the participant's Vocation Director and Bishop, based upon the following:

  • A written self-evaluation composed by the participant.
  • The Vice-Rector's report on academic performance, the participant's performance in the community and pastoral aspects of the program, and any other information he considers pertinent.
  • The Rector's own observations of the participant's overall progress.
  • A general report of the Director of Spiritual Formation, taking into consideration the participant’s report on Spiritual Growth and Blessings, attesting to the his fulfillment of the requirements of the spiritual formation component of the program.

Once the evaluation is composed by the Rector, the participant reviews the report. He then makes an appointment to meet with the Rector to discuss it. The Rector is free to revise the report, based on these discussions and may include any notations requested by the participant. The participant signs the final report, which is then sent to his Bishop or Vocation Director, along with other relevant material.


The Rector is appointed by the Archbishop of Dubuque. He has responsibility for overseeing the entire seminary formation program. His primary concern is for the seminary formation of the participants and direction of the entire seminary program.


Spiritual Director
The Spiritual Director is appointed by the Archbishop of Dubuque. His primary responsibility is to assist the Rector by coordinating the entire spiritual formation program of the seminary. He makes provision for individual spiritual directors for the participants, directs the liturgical life of the seminary community and is responsible for days of recollection and the required semester retreats.

Vianney House

Vianney House is intended as a prayerful place of residence for seminarians of the Archdiocesan Minor Seminary, St. Pius X Seminary, at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Located at 1235 Mt. Loretta Ave. in Dubuque, just over one mile from the college campus, the residence is intended for seminarians who are either completing their philosophical and theological prerequisites for entrance into major seminary, or for those in their final two years of undergraduate studies who are anticipating an entrance into major seminary upon completion of a Bachelor’s degree.

St. John Vianney

Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney was born in 1786 at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, and intended for the priesthood from an early age. His education and training were interrupted by his conscription in the army, from which he deserted, and again considerably lengthened by his inability to learn Latin. After ordination, at last, in 1818, he was for three year assistant priest at Écully, and then appointed in February 1818 parish priest at Ars. In this remote village he achieved almost worldwide fame. First from the neighboring parishes, then from all France, finally from other countries, came men and women of all sorts and conditions to seek his counsel. By 1855 the number of his visitors was computed at 20,000 per year, and during his last few years he was forced to spend 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. He was beatified in 1905, canonized in 1925, and in 1929 created the patron of parish priests. His feast day in August 8th.

Vianney House, the pretheologian residence of the Archdiocesan St. Pius X Minor Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, was established under the patronage of the Curé of Ars in 1997.


The Vianney House

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. - Matthew 4:18-20

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