The Catholic graduate school and seminary Washington Theological Union announced on June 27 that its closing at the end of the 2012 - 2013 academic year.
“This was a difficult decision for us, not least because of the excellence of the education and formation our students are receiving,” said board of trustees chair Fr. James Greenfield, OSFS.
“We remain proud of all we’ve accomplished as a community, and of the many successes and contributions our students, faculty, staff and alumni are making to the Church.”
The Washington, D.C. seminary – which boasts 1,400 religious and lay alumni worldwide – has decided to shut its doors after 40 years, citing financial challenges, low enrollment and a decline in the number of religious vocations.
Earlier this month, the board of trustees decided to close enrollment to new students after September of 2011. Classes will keep going for current students, who will be accommodated so that they can finish their degrees before the end of the 2012 - 2013 academic year.
The board also said that the seminary's facilities will continue to host nationally recognized conferences and workshops, offer lectures and programs for the Church community and keep its conference center open during this time period.
“We will enter this final phase with dignity, a sense of accomplishment, and gratitude to God,” said Fr. John Welch, O. Carm., who is a board member and the Provincial of the Chicago Carmelite Province.
“Let this be a time to celebrate the Union's contribution to the Church, to honor the various constituencies that made it possible, and to reaffirm the Union's values, still much needed.”
The school's graduates throughout the years have included bishops, theologians, presidents of universities, missionaries in every part of the world, pastors and lay associates.
Its faculty has also consisted of world renowned scholars, homilists, pastors, pastoral counselors, and spiritual directors.