REVISITED: Mount St. Mary Seminary

The other day Father Pasley of Mater Ecclesiae and I visited Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg.  I posted a few little shots from my phone, since I had internet trouble there…. par for the ecclesial course.

This week in my column for The Wanderer I posted a small paragraph on the visit.

Many people are impatient about the pace of the implementation of Pope Benedict’s provisions for the older, traditional form of Mass according to Summorum Pontificum.  Do not be discouraged.   This week I visited Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD and found a rector, faculty and many seminarians not only without bitterness or baggage, but with minds and hearts open to the older form of Mass.  Provisions have been made for seminarians to learn the older Mass.  I was told that the frequency of its celebration there will be expanded as well.  What was so refreshing is that they are looking at it as just a normal part of a proper formation for a seminarian of the Roman Rite.  Without taking anything away from the rest of their formation, they have calmly added this enriching component.  I was impressed by their positive spirit at “the Mount” and am grateful for the experience this last week.  It may be one the first times in my life I can, from my own point of view, place “happy” and “seminary” in the same sentence.

Here are a few more shots of the place.

Some very kind seminarians offered to help with our morning Masses:

Fr. Pasley at work.  I think it was a particularly poignant experience to return there and be saying the older form of Mass at a side altar. 

For me, to be at a seminary and be doing that was more like stepping into a Salvador Dali painting.

The main chapel.

The seminary building.


Getting ready to head to the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Some seminarians with whom I shot the breeze one evening.  

These are great guys.  More and more, then men I meet in formation is fine fellows.

People will be fortunate to have them in their parishes.

This I found especially appropriate to a seminary, where the men eventually study canon law.

Yes… it is good to spell things out with guys who spend years studying philosophy, theology and the code.

All in all, the visit was very pleasant.  I am grate to the rector, faculty and students for the warm reception.

I am especially grateful to the guys who worked to resolve the internet problem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. catholic says:

    I thought us catholics weren’t hung up about smoking tobacco.

  2. catholic: I believe you are missing the point. o{]:¬)

  3. Bp. Basil says:

    Why was an altar with a typical Byzantine icon of the Theotokos like stepping into a Salvador Dali painting? There’s something here I’m not getting; I’m sorry. [No, I guess you don’t get it.]

  4. Cory says:

    I wonder if His Excellency Archbishop Burke ever had to deal with a complaint dealing with a sign like this?

  5. Miss Jackie says:

    Fr- did you get to go into the big chapel aka IC Chapel? Its so beautiful and its were I want to get married. The stained glass is original and doesnt even have St Bernedette as a saint…they have her pictured without a halo. The sad part of the chapel though is the altar rail. It was torn out and was put up in the grotto outside so I dont think they can be used again. But all in all the ‘wreckovation’ didnt do too much damage other than that and the peoples altar blocking the high altar.

  6. Guy Power says:

    Fr. Z! All you need is a pipe to set off your fedora! Klasse!

    –Guy Power

  7. Jayna says:

    You look very suave with that waistcoat and fedora, Father. You look like you’re off to conduct some “business” with the “family.”

  8. jarhead462 says:

    Bp. Basil- I think what Fr. Z meant was that since his seminary experiences were so lacking in orthodoxy, to walk into a seminary and have a beautiful EF Mass would be very strange indeed.

  9. TJV says:

    Miss Jackie –

    The altar rail that you refer to was from the old parish church that Mother Seton attended which was destroyed by fire many decades ago – the gold iconic statue of the Blessed Mother that oversees the whole campus now stands there. The parish church was transfered down the mountain to St. Anthony’s.

    The main chapel never had an altar rail. Pictures of the chapel dating from decades before the 1960’s in the archives attest to this. Other than extending the sanctuary for the addition of the free-standing altar during the 1970’s, and adding the throne-like “presider’s chair” in the middle of the choir, the main chapel never underwent a wreckovation. True, the sacristy on the Gospel side was torn out during the 1980’s for a daily Mass chapel (I do not know if that sacristy was restored in the years since I graduated the Mount)but the chapel was spared. All four side altars remain unscathed, as does the main altar where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. The statuary still is there, as is the crucifixion scene above the main altar. The carved confessionals also remain. All in all, evidence of Our Blessed Lady’s oversight of her holy mountain and the chapel named in her honor.


  10. Richard says:

    The MSM chapel is just gorgeous.

    Fr. Z – I’m keen to hear more from you on just how much the seminarians have changed over the last 20 years. To the extent we can make such broad comparisons, how do today’s compare to 1988? To 1978?

  11. TJM says:

    Father Z, you touched upon a very important point. The TLM and the rest of the Catholic sacred liturgical tradition is well received by many
    of the young, people who did not live throught the liturgical wars. I suspect they view liturgy more objectively and in a far less ideological way than their elders.
    They don’t associate the use of Latin or the wearing of the cassock as a line in the sand as many older folks do. This is a very healty development
    indeed and you must be very happy and proud to be part of the resurgence of Catholic liturgy. All the best, Tom

  12. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    Right on, Fr Z. I visited the Mount recently, and when I mentioned my intention to offer the Holy Sacrifice the next morning, the sacristan asked, “Ordinary or Extraordinary Form?”- both being equal. When I showed up the next morning for Holy Mass, I decided to offer it in the OF in Latin. A seminarian who was there praying kindly offered to serve, and knew all of the responses! I too saw that the seminary is in good shape and has none of the leftover issues! The future of the Church is very bright. The JPII youth have become Benedict’s men!

  13. Lucia says:

    I love Mount St. Mary’s. It’s the best. Really, it is.


    (Okay not really, I’ve been there once, and it’s not really my favorite. But it is an incredible place.)

  14. Jackie says:

    tjv- Really? I guess I was wrong. A seminarian told me that back in ’00 when I was a freshman. Nice to know thanks :-)

  15. MSM Student says:

    It’s always good to hear others compliment the Mount’s Seminary. As an undergrad at the Mount, I know I (and the rest of my classmates) take a great deal of pride in our brothers on the other side of campus. We are blessed by their presence on campus. I’m glad you enjoyed your time at the Mount! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and was very ecstatic to see that you had made a visit here. :)

    -MSM Student

  16. Christopher says:

    Just FYI – I blogged of my travels to the mount as well back in January.
    I loved it, and I pray for the seminarians there when I think of them.

    Here is a direct link to the post with some pix and info if anyone is interested :

    Fr. Z: Will we still be seeing you In KC on Saturday?

  17. Cygnus says:

    I never saw the Mount chapel, but I went many times to Mass at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes just up the hill from the seminary. Did you get to meet with its chaplain, Fr. Jack Lombardi? Although he performs the NO, he always has plenty of incense, and the Kyria, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei are almost always done in Latin chant.

    I just missed you, Fr. Z, having moved from Frederick, MD to Sparks, NV last week! Well, if ever you’re out this way, I’ll catch you at a blognic.

  18. PGJ says:

    Msgr Barone!

  19. moconnor says:

    MSM is a beautiful place. Until last year I lived very near the Mount and the choir director there is a good friend. I had always heard that things were kinda liberal there, but I’m glad to know that you found them interested in the TLM. Did you get a chance also to visit the St Elizabeth Anne Seton Shrine? The basilica is very nice, if really 1962. Good for chanting.

  20. John says:

    I have cantored at the Seton Basilica occasionally and go on retreats there.

    For the the real Father Z is the Professor of Moral Theology at the Mount, Father Robert V Zylla O.S.C. Known to his students as Godzylla. He was the celebrant at a funeral for a parishioner and I asked him how many Bishops he has trained and he said 5. I think he is the longest serving prof at the Mount.

    I am encourage by the Seminarians. I expect to see some this afternoon and will check with them and Father Zylla to see if they met the visiting Father Z.

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