Public welcome to attend open house April 22
Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) - On Sunday, April 22, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will bless the new wing of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward and celebrate the school’s 20th anniversary.
Related: slideshow from groundbreaking
St. Gregory the Great Seminary was blessed for the first time in August 1998 by Bishop Emeritus Fabian Bruskewitz the day before classes began. The building had been purchased by the diocese and renovated to accommodate seminarians.
The seminary was again blessed Nov. 19, 2000 during a visit from then-Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. Archbishop Montalvo came to consecrate the newly built chapel, library and faculty offices, all of which were constructed between 1999 and 2001.
The Catholic Church’s rite of blessing a new seminary allows seminaries to be blessed annually because there are new students every year.
This means that when Archbishop Pierre visits in a few weeks, he will be able to bless the entire seminary, as well as the new addition.
Father Jeffrey Eickhoff, the rector at St. Gregory the Great Seminary, noted the significance of having Archbishop Pierre visit the Lincoln Diocese.
He said, “We are not a large diocese or a large seminary, but he is honoring us with his priestly blessing which represents that of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.”
As an apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Pierre is the representative of the Holy See to the United States. Because Vatican City is a sovereign nation, it has representatives in other countries, similar to the role of an ambassador.
The residence of an apostolic nuncio is known as an apostolic nunciature, and the one for the United States is located in Washington D.C.
Father Christopher Goodwin, a priest from the Lincoln Diocese and an alumnus of St. Gregory the Great Seminary, works in the papal nunciature in D.C. Father Goodwin was able to help arrange the nuncio’s visit.
Archbishop Pierre will visit a number of places during his time in the diocese, April 21-24.
On the night of April 21, Archbishop Pierre will visit Pius X High School in Lincoln before greeting the bishops of Nebraska at a dinner hosted by Bishop Conley. On April 22, Archbishop Pierre will celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass at the UNL Newman Center before going out to the seminary.
The public is invited to St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward for the blessing of the new wing and the seminary, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. An open house will follow until 4:30 p.m.
Afterward, at an invite-only event, Archbishop Pierre will celebrate Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church, with clergy, seminarians, alumni and other invited guests. A banquet to celebrate the seminary’s milestone anniversary will follow.
“The fact that the seminary has been here for 20 years shows that God’s grace has guided us. He continues to give us growth and holy young men who are pursuing the priesthood,” Father Eickhoff said.
During the rest of his stay, Archbishop Pierre will celebrate Mass for the students of Cathedral of the Risen Christ School in Lincoln as well as visit the Pink Sisters, Carmelites, School Sisters of Christ the King and Marian Sisters.
Father Eickhoff said he is thankful for the opportunity to have Archbishop Pierre come to the diocese.
Father Eickhoff said, “It is a great honor to receive the pope’s representative to the U.S. in the Midwest, and it is a great way to celebrate the blessings of God on the work we are doing here in the Diocese of Lincoln.”