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September 13, 2009

Bishop Abramowicz Seminary finds new homePolish formation program to share quarters with Casa Jesus near cathedral

By Alicia Pozywio


The Bishop Abramowicz Seminary Program for seminarians from Poland has a new home. The program is moving from its previous location at Holy Innocents Parish, 1447 W. Superior St., to the former convent at Holy Name Cathedral, 750 N. Wabash Ave., which it will share with Casa Jesus, a house of discernment for men from Latin America considering priesthood.

“These seminaries have been sharing this same intellectual program for quite some time,” said Father Marek Kasperczuk, rector of Bishop Abramowicz Seminary Program. “Moving under one roof seems to be a very natural action. It is not a formal merge; it is only about sharing this same house.”

Bishop Abramowicz Seminary is a unique place for educating Polish men preparing themselves to become priests. It was founded in 1999 after Bishop Alfred Abramowicz, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, shared his idea with Cardinal George. Bishop Abramowicz felt the need for the Archdiocese of Chicago to bring some seminarians from Poland, who would agree to become American priests.

But he also understood that the adaptation time for the seminarians is like that of any newcomers — stressful, full of fear and frustrations and in need of English lessons.

Upon the cardinal’s approval, a year-long program to help the adaptation process was created and named after its idea giver, Bishop Abramowicz. The seminarians explore the American church and culture and learn English by attending the University of Illinois at Chicago. After the year, they continue their education in one of the diocese’s seminaries. They serve the spiritual needs of the archdiocese in its parishes following ordination.

Move brings advantages

According to Kasperczuk, the seminary will gain a lot as a result of the move. While the two programs will remain separate, their residents will have more opportunities for interaction.

“Until now, it was a little difficult to ask the seminarians to use English in everyday communications since all were Polish,” he said. “Now, it will be necessary to speak English only and this will speed the process of learning English.”

The location will also help.

“The seminary is very close to the cathedral, so the seminarians will attend prayer and Eucharist there, they will be close to the cardinal,” Kasperczuk said. “That will give them an opportunity to get to know the American church from another perspective.”

There is one more benefit: the seminarians will live in the heart of a city for which they will work as future priests.

“Thanks to the location, the acculturation will take place in a more culturally diverse and cosmopolitan environment,” Kasperczuk said.

Along with the change of address, the seminary will make some other modifications. There won’t be any students in the seminary during this academic year.

Need to prepare

“We need some time to prepare the residence for the seminarians,” said Kasperczuk, adding that the main focus this year will be on recruiting.

“I will spend a lot of time in Poland renewing old and making new contacts with the Polish seminaries,” he said.

He also wants to use the Polish Catholic media to reach potential candidates.

The new part of the formation process is that it will start in Poland, before the seminarians travel overseas. “While visiting Poland I want to spend some time with the candidates who already declared that they are willing to come to Chicago,” Kasperczuk said.

During its 10 years serving the Archdiocese of Chicago, the seminary has yielded 23 ordained priests. Twenty are working in the parishes in Chicago, one is in Michigan, one in Joliet and one went back to Poland serving in the Diocese of Lodz.  

What is Bishop Abramowicz Seminary?

Bishop Abramowicz Seminary is a house of formation for Polish seminarians who come to Chicago to complete their studies to serve the church here as ordained priests. It is similar to Casa Jesus, a house of formation for men from Latin America discerning vocations.

What do the seminarians do while they are there?

During their year at Bishop Abramowicz Seminary, the young men learn English by attending classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago. They also continue their spiritual formation while learning about the church in the United Stated and American culture. When they are finished, they enter the archdiocesan seminary system to complete their education and formation.

When did the program start?


How many of its students have been ordained?