I will give you shepherds.
St. Gregory the Great Seminary forms Catholic men as disciples of Jesus Christ and assists their discernment of a priestly vocation to serve God and His Church.
Saint Gregory the Great Seminary is a sign of the youthfulness and vitality of the Church, which is ever ancient and ever new.
To assist and guide the seminarian’s discernment of a vocation to the Catholic priesthood, and to foster a mature commitment to that vocation.
To foster personal growth and balance in virtue, self-knowledge, leadership, and the natural human qualities that will enable one to be a man of faith and to serve as a Catholic priest.
To foster personal spiritual growth in the Christian life, within the tradition of the Church’s spirituality and theology.
To develop a spirit of apostolic service in the mind and heart of the seminarian by fostering an understanding of the pastoral work of the Church.
To provide a liberal arts education with a solid philosophical foundation, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree, and to ensure readiness for graduate study in theology.
To integrate the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions of priestly formation in the experience of each seminarian.
St. Gregory the Great Seminary provides formation for seminarians according to the teaching and discipline of the Catholic Church by an integrated program of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation. This formation is provided on behalf of the Catholic Bishop of Lincoln, as well as other archdioceses, dioceses, and religious communities. St. Gregory the Great Seminary prepares students for entry into theological studies through an undergraduate college education or pre-theology program and seeks to develop the natural gifts of the seminarians as men of faith committed to Jesus Christ and His Church. St. Gregory the Great Seminary also offers its resources to the larger community as such need is discerned in collaboration with the Catholic Bishop of Lincoln.
St. Gregory the Great Seminary is a fully accredited member institution of the Higher Learning Commission. St. Gregory Seminary completed a comprehensive visit in 2015 and was renewed in its accreditation by the Institutional Actions Council through the 2025-2026 school year.
St. Gregory the Great Seminary is an approved institution of higher education in the State of Nebraska by the Coordinating Commission for Post-Secondary Education. It is also a member of the National Association of College Seminaries.
Since the establishment of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1887, the men preparing for the priesthood have been educated in various seminaries throughout the United States and abroad. As the Church developed in Southern Nebraska, the advantages of a local seminary became increasingly evident.
The insights of the Second Vatican Council as well as changing social and economic conditions strengthened the Church’s awareness that her mission of training men for the priesthood must be both doctrinal and pastoral. This idea is developed in the first chapter of the Decree on Priestly Formation of the Second Vatican Council. This dual aspect is emphasized with the statement that priestly formation should “always answer the pastoral needs for the area in which the ministry is to be exercised.”
The dream of having a diocesan seminary began to be realized when Bishop Glennon P. Flavin authorized a two-year college program that began operation in September of 1984. The men enrolled in that program lived at Good Counsel Retreat House in Waverly, Nebraska. They registered at the University of Nebraska for the secular subjects in their curriculum while the ecclesiastical subjects and spiritual formation were provided at the seminary.
The desire for a free-standing diocesan seminary persisted. In 1996, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz appointed a task force to study the possibilities of such a project and then to find a suitable site. The site that finally seemed to fulfill most of the requisites for a seminary was the former Rivendell Hospital located south of Seward. Its proximity to Lincoln offered the advantages of a municipality, while the spacious campus and sturdy building with its kitchen, dining area, private rooms, gymnasium, and courtyard provided a quiet and appropriate atmosphere conducive to priestly formation. After careful reflection and consultation, Bishop Bruskewitz submitted a bid for the property. This bid of $1.35 million was accepted in April 1997.
The seminary was named in honor of Saint Gregory the Great, who was born in Rome about 540 and died on March 12, 604. During the thirteen years that he served the Church as Pope Gregory I, he summarized the teachings of the earlier Fathers of the Church into one harmonious whole, and he worked diligently to form the clergy of his time for service to Christ and His Church. He also emphasized the fact that the See of Peter is the one supreme and decisive authority in the Catholic Church. Not without reason did the Church bestow on him the seldom-granted title of “the Great.” The epitaph on his tomb in Saint Peter’s in Rome expresses it well: “After having conformed all his actions to his doctrines, the great consul of God went to enjoy eternal triumphs.”
On June 16, 1997, the Very Reverend John C. Rooney was appointed Pro-Rector of Saint Gregory the Great Seminary, which was to be opened in August 1998. With the assistance of several planning committees, Father Rooney immediately began to assemble a faculty and staff, to develop the formation program, and to commence a plan of building renovation and expansion.
After a year of intense preparation, Father Rooney obtained approval from the State of Nebraska for the Seminary to operate as a degree-granting institution of higher education. Bishop Bruskewitz formally blessed and dedicated Saint Gregory the Great Seminary on August 23, 1998 with a crowd of two thousand people in attendance. Twenty-three students for the Diocese of Lincoln enrolled in the college and pre-theology programs, constituting the first student body of Saint Gregory the Great Seminary. At the end of that inaugural year, the first graduating class of the Seminary received their diplomas on May 8, 1999.
Since opening its doors in 1998, the fruitfulness of Saint Gregory the Great Seminary has become evident. In years that followed, the Seminary began to serve the Church outside of the Diocese of Lincoln by welcoming students from several dioceses and religious orders. Echoing the words of the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Bruskewitz has referred to Saint Gregory the Great Seminary as the “heart of the Diocese” where men will be formed for priestly service in the Diocese of Lincoln and beyond.
On June 16, 1999, Bishop Bruskewitz appointed the Very Reverend John T. Folda as Rector, and in that same month, a planned expansion project was launched. Construction began on a new chapel, library, classrooms, and offices; this continued through the Jubilee Year 2000. Finally, on November 19, 2000, in the presence of over a thousand visitors, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, dedicated and blessed Immaculate Conception Chapel, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Library, and the new classrooms and offices.
April 23, 2002 saw the groundbreaking for construction of a bell tower, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus Bell Tower was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Bruskewitz on May 3, 2003, and it has become a landmark in the local community and in the Diocese of Lincoln.
After having served as Assistant Professor and Academic Dean, Very Reverend Jeffrey R. Eickhoff was appointed Rector on June 1, 2013. Under his guidance, the programs and facilities continued to grow. With the increase of numbers of seminarians, dioceses, and religious congregations sending men to St. Gregory Seminary, the Board of Trustees decided in 2014 to expand the scope and size of the Seminary to accommodate greater numbers as it was becoming a regional seminary. A new Strategic Plan was drafted and approved which included a master plan for expansion of the facilities. The kitchen facilities were updated and expanded in 2014, and other spaces within the building were converted to student rooms because of immediate need. Phase I included additional student rooms, resident priest suites, classrooms, and new utilities, including ground-source geothermal heating and air conditioning. This phase was completed during the 2017-2018 school year, and the new building addition was blessed by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, on April 22, 2018.
On June 14, 2021, Very Reverend Brian P. Kane was appointed as Rector, continuing with the success and growth of St. Gregory the Great Seminary with a particular emphasis on human formation and implementation of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis and the Program for PriestlyFormation, 6th Edition.
Soon after opening the Seminary, the Faculty and Administration began to work towards academic accreditation in accord with the expectations of the Program of Priestly Formation. After several years of self-study and evaluation, as well as site visits by evaluation teams, the Seminary was granted Initial Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission on November 4, 2010. This accreditation was renewed after another formal visit by the Commission in 2015, which granted full accreditation through the 2025-2026 school year.
The opening and continued growth of Saint Gregory the Great Seminary demonstrates that the present time is a time of hope, not only for the Diocese of Lincoln, but also for the Universal Church. Founded during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the Seminary is formed in the light of his apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, from which the Seminary has taken its motto.
Pope Benedict XVI declared in his inaugural homily, “The Church is alive. The Church is young!” Saint Gregory the Great Seminary is but one sign of the youthfulness and vitality of the Church, which is ever ancient and ever new.