Notre Dame provides graduate studies

Since the Diocese of Jackson does not have a seminary of its own, diocesan seminarians complete their formation and graduate studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. The original seminary was founded in 1838 in Plattville, Louisiana and moved several times before settling in its current location. All three of the diocese’s new priests graduated from there, as did Bishop Emeritus Joseph Latino. The following is an excerpt from the seminary’s history, written in part to celebrate the anniversary year:
Archbishop John W. Shaw (1918-1934) called a meeting of laymen at his Esplanade Avenue residence for the purpose of discussing with them the ways and means of erecting a substantial building on a site acquired in 1910.
An outcome of the August 20, 1920, meeting was the launch of a capital campaign. By the following January the campaign netted close to $1 million from some 50,000 subscribers. Encouraged by this broad-based display of interest and generosity towards a permanent major seminary, the archbishop commissioned the architect, General Allison Owen, to draw plans for Notre Dame Seminary.
The corner stone was laid for the handsome chateau-like building on May 7, 1922. The seminary began functioning on September 18, 1923, with 25 students from the three Louisiana dioceses registering for philosophical and theological courses. In 1925, the present Archbishop’s residence was built next to the seminary.
From the beginning of the seminary until 1967, the Marist Fathers of the Washington Province were in charge. The first rector was Father Charles Dubray, S.M. The number of students remained small through the formative years, not exceeding 60 until September 1932.
During his relatively short tenure, the Most Reverend John P. Cody (1962-1965) laid the groundwork for the emergence of Notre Dame Seminary into a provincial seminary exclusively for theological students.
Prior to the establishment in 1964 of the St. John Vianney Preparatory School, also located in the Carrollton section, diocesan seminarians normally spent six years at St. Joseph Preparatory Seminary (established by the Benedictines at Gessen, Louisiana in 1891) and then six more years at Notre Dame Seminary. St. Joseph Seminary College (in Covington, Louisiana since 1902) became a four-year college seminary in 1968, serving principally the province of New Orleans.
In addition to the Marist Fathers, diocesan priests and others of specialized competence have been professors and lecturers at Notre Dame Seminary since the arrival of Archbishop Philip M. Hannan in 1965.
Notre Dame Seminary observed its 90th anniversary during the 2013-2014 academic year.
As a graduate school and a seminary, Notre Dame Seminary continues to be an apostolic community of faith forming future priests for the church as well as a center of theological studies preparing the laity for ministry and leadership positions in the church. Take a virtual tour at
Editor’s note: to support seminarian education contact Father Matthew Simmons in the Office of Vocations, 601-960-8484.