.- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. dedicated the new Blessed John Paul II Seminary at a Mass on Oct. 22, the first feast day of the recently beatified Pope.
Cardinal Wuerl called the new seminary “a manifestation of the New Evangelization.”
“We see Blessed John Paul II's legacy continued in the formation of new priests in this archdiocese,” he said.
The new seminary was announced in Oct. 2010. It opened for its inaugural semester in August, with room for 30 men. Seminarians for the archdiocese will start their priestly formation through the seminary, while attending classes at The Catholic University of America.
“The men who will be formed here are preparing to be priests of this millennium, the agents of the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth and the voice of the New Evangelization calling all people near and far to embrace the Lord Jesus,” said Cardinal Wuerl in his homily.
The seminary chapel was dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Church. John Paul II had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother during his lifetime.
“Just as Jesus on the cross entrusted John to his mother, so does the Church today continue to encourage all of us to entrust our lives, our vocation, our ministry, our service to Mary, mother of Jesus, mother of God, mother of the Church,” said Cardinal Wuerl.
The seminary houses two relics of Blessed John Paul II. The newly-restored chapel contains a first class relic, the blood of the Pope on the cassock he was wearing when he was shot during a May 13, 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square.
The seminary also contains an amice that Blessed John Paul II wore while celebrating Mass. An amice is a square cloth with that some priests wear over their clerical collar when they are vested for Mass.
The chapel’s altar and ambo were initially constructed and used for the papal Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on April 17, 2008 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The altar stone in the chapel was used by Archbishop John Carroll, the first bishop in the United States.
Cardinal Wuerl explained that the altar serves as a reminder that Pope Benedict, “is the rock on which our Church stands and the rock that we turn to for support and confirmation in our faith.”
“The ambo also used at that Papal Mass reminds us that it is the Word of God that the priest proclaims, it is the teaching of the Church that he announces,” the cardinal said. “His fidelity is to both because it is not himself that he preaches but Jesus - and Jesus crucified.”
The United States bishops will discuss the possibility of adding Bl. John Paul’s feast day to the Church calendar nationwide at their upcoming meeting in November.
Thus far, individual bishops have decided if the Pope’s feast day is celebrated in their diocese.
Several dioceses, including Rome, Krakow and Washington, D.C., celebrated Oct. 22, 2011 as the first official memorial of Blessed John Paul II.
“Pope John Paul II was a special role model to so many people as an extraordinary priest, bishop and pope,” said Cardinal Wuerl in a statement before the Mass.
“With the new seminary in the archdiocese, the young men who have been inspired to be part of the New Evangelization may begin their formation right here at home.”