Switzerland: The major seminary in Basel has become too large!

Source: FSSPX News

The Seminary of Saint-Beat in Lucerne, which has been open since 1878 for candidates to the priesthood, not far from the Hofkirche in Lucerne, has become too large for the present needs of the Diocese of Basel.  The 80 rooms of the building constructed by the local architect Walter Rüssli in 1972 were at that time all occupied by seminarians;  presently residing there are 3 candidates for the priesthood, 19 theology students and 15 other students.  The Diocese of Basel, which owns the building, will decide in the Fall the future of the seminary.

The current use of the building—including the renting of rooms not occupied by the seminary—will continue until the summer of 2013, the rector Thomas Ruckstuhl explained.  All options for the future of the seminary are being studied, with a view to submitting them to the Bishop of Basel.  Maintenance costs for the building amount to around 2 million Swiss francs per year.  Half of the expenses are covered by rent collected on rooms and halls, 20% by collections, and 30%, or about 600,000 Swiss francs per year, is paid by the diocese.

The Swiss Institute for Pastoral Sociology published in 2011 a study entitled Diocesan Priests in Switzerland:  Prognostications, interpretations, perspectives (cf. DICI no. 249 dated February 3, 2012).  The volume shows that in Switzerland the number of diocesan priests was 2,877 in 1970, as opposed to 1,441 in 2009.  “Priestly ordinations and the deaths of diocesan priests are without any doubt the two main factors influencing the trend in the number of diocesan priests in the dioceses.  Over the last ten years 143 priestly ordinations were recorded in Switzerland and more than 500 deaths of diocesan priests.  In other words, three times as many priests are dying than those who are being ordained,” the authors of the study explain.  Since 1991 they have observed a decrease of a little more than 30% in the number of diocesan priests, whereby the decline has been particularly noticeable in the Dioceses of Basel, Sion and Saint-Gall.  On June 10, 2012, Bishop Felix Gmür of Basel ordained two new priests for the entire diocese.  (Sources : apic/priesterseminar/spi – DICI no.258 dated July 20, 2012)

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