Rome's American seminary quarantines as students test positive for coronavirus

CNA 5d9d71d2ca0f8 165068 1 Ordination of new Deacons from the Pontifical North American College in St. Peter's Basilica, Oct. 3, 2019. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

The college for American seminarians in Rome is quarantining as a campus after several students tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

A spokesman for the Pontifical North American College told CNA that the seminary had "some students test positive," and that those students are being isolated while other students and faculty are quarantining on the Rome campus.

Vice Rector Fr. David A. Schunk said the seminary is "increasing our testing," following the positive results.

Rome's Pontifical Universities, which have students from around the world, resumed in-person in early October. 

After ending the 2019-2020 academic year with online classes during Italy's national lockdown, the Vatican-accredited schools were directed in June to prepare to teach in person with added health and safety measures.

Pontifical universities continue to offer some online learning as needed, especially for those who were not able to return to Rome or must quarantine. Some universities have had students test positive for the coronavirus as cases in Rome and across Italy continue to rise.

Students arriving at the North American College from the United States in August and September were required to take COVID-19 tests and observe a travel quarantine for 14 days at the seminary's campus on the Janiculum Hill, not far from the Vatican.

After the travel quarantine ended for the 33 new students, called "New Men," in early September, they were able to attend Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and make a pilgrimage to Assisi for two days.

They also had the chance to meet Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Sept 6. 

In the meeting, Fr. Peter Harman, rector of the seminary, assured the pope of their continued prayers. "We have just returned from pilgrimage to Assisi, and there we begged the intercession of St. Francis for Pope Francis," he said.

"Please pray for us, that this new year will be one of grace, health and growth always in God's will," the rector asked Francis.

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