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The Vilnius Seminary was founded in 1582 – not even 20 years after the Council of Trent’s decision to educate priests in seminaries. The Vilnius Diocesan Seminary was the first seminary and the second institution of higher education (preceded only by Vilnius University) in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Bishop J. Radvila (Radziwill) entrusted the leadership of the new Seminary (with a student population of 12) to the Jesuits.

The history of the Vilnius Seminary is turbulent. Instability in the institution’s past arose from the 1654-1661 Russian invasion, wars with Swedes, the 1863 revolt, WWI, WWII, as well as various political occupations. At times the Seminary would be closed, only to be re-opened later. In February of 1945 the Soviet regime shut down the Seminary and pronounced that it would never again be operational in Vilnius. Romuald Jaůbrzykowski, archbishop of Vilnius at the time, decreed on February 20, 1945 that the Vilnius Seminary was being relocated to Biaůystok. Jaůbrzykowski himself also left Vilnius for Biaůystok. Up until the Seminary’s 1993 reestablishment in Vilnius, the Biaůystok Seminary justly viewed its history as a continuation of the seminary that had started in Vilnius. The Vilnius Seminary was established in Lithuania again on July 16, 1993. The archbishop of Vilnius, His Eminence Cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis, initiated the reestablishment of the Seminary, in large part encouraged by the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II to Lithuania on August 4-8 in 1993.

The reestablished Seminary first took residence in the former Trinitarian monastery. A growing student population prompted the construction of new facilities. Thanks to the contributions and prayers of many donors, a new building for the Seminary was completed in 1998. The new building was constructed next to a traditional destination for pilgrims – the Vilnius Calvary. In the fall of the same year the Seminary moved into these new facilities. St. Joseph was chosen as the patron for the Seminary.

Currently the Vilnius St. Joseph Seminary accepts seminarians from the Vilnius, Panevëţys, and Kaiđiadorys dioceses. Priestly formation at the Seminary lasts 7 years. It starts with a propedeutical year followed by 6 years of instruction in philosophy and theology. Third year seminarians receive their cassocks and are designated as candidates to become deacons and priests. Sixth year seminarians are ordained as deacons.

In accord with Church documents, future priests are schooled in 4 aspects: the human, the spiritual, the intellectual, and the pastoral. This is achieved firstly through the Seminary’s daily schedule, which instills in future priests the time management skills necessary to devote appropriate amounts of time to prayer, study, work, and recreation. The Seminary community lives to the rhythm of prayer, with the day’s focus being the Holy Mass celebrated at the Seminary every day except Sunday. On Sundays seminarians go to Mass at local parishes. The intellectual preparation for the priesthood is extremely important in the Seminary’s program. The curriculum of the first 2 years is devoted to philosophical studies and the final 4 are devoted to theological. Theological courses are affiliated with the Pontifical Lateran University. Over 30 priests and lay people teach at the Seminary. After the successful completion of their studies, seminarians receive a bachelor’s degree in theology as well as a master’s degree in religious studies.

The Seminary’s community is supported by the donations of the faithful in Lithuania as well as abroad. We sincerely thank all who support the Seminary with prayers and donations. Holy Mass on Saturdays is always offered for the benefactors of the Seminary. We graciously accept all donations. May God repay you for your kindness.

We sincerely ask that everyone pray for an increase in new religious vocations so that the Church would not lack for “shepherds after God’s own heart.” (Jer 3:15)

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