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March 21, 2014


This action is the latest in a series aimed at fulfilling a plan for a more vibrant program of
priestly formation to meet the needs of seminarians as well as the people they will one day serve
in Philadelphia and throughout the country

Contextual Background
Last March, Archbishop Chaput announced a plan focused on the future viability and sustainability of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Its stated goal was to bring a sense of energy to the Seminary, its program of priestly formation, its program of permanent diaconate formation and educational opportunities it offers for the general public through the Graduate School of Theology.

The plan called for the Seminary to consolidate its entire operation. The College Division program, currently situated on the lower side of the campus, is slated to move into vacant space within the Theology Division buildings on the upper side of the campus over the next three to five years as necessary renovations are completed.

As a result of this consolidation, the Seminary will retain 35 acres of land as well as sufficient space for state-of-the-art classrooms, dormitories and offices. It will be positioned for future growth to support up to 200 resident seminarians, all non-resident candidates discerning vocations to the permanent diaconate and hundreds of full and part-time students enrolled in the Graduate School of Theology, which offers graduate degrees and catechetical certificate programs for clergy and the laity.

Last October, the Seminary engaged HHF, L.P. as a consultant for the potential lease or sale of the buildings and property currently housing the College Division and announced that funds realized from that process would be directed to the renovations called for in its plan for viability and sustainability. At that time, it was stated that additional necessary funding would be derived from the Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope Capital Campaign, a new capital campaign focused solely on the Seminary and the sale of select pieces of artwork from the Seminary's collections.

Today's Announcement Regarding the Sale of Selected Pieces of Art
Today, Bishop Timothy C. Senior, Rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, announced that the Seminary has entered into an agreement with Christie's for the private consignment sale of five works of art by Thomas Eakins in its collection including: The Right Reverend James F. Loughlin (1902), Reverend James P. Turner (1900), James A. Flaherty (1903), Dr. Patrick Garvey (1902) and Archbishop James Frederick Wood (1877). Most of these portraits feature past faculty members, were gifts to the Seminary and have been in its care for over 80 years.

The decision to sell these works comes with the approval of the Seminary's Board of Trustees after a year-long study conducted by a special Art Committee consisting of art specialists familiar with the history and value of the collection as well as Seminary alumni and administrators. Prior to coming to the conclusion to proceed with a private sale, the Seminary earnestly explored the possibility of partnering with local museums and historical societies in the hope that a cultural institution within the Philadelphia region would make an offer on these paintings, but a willing partner could not be found. While the Eakins paintings represent the most valuable portion of its collection, the Seminary will still maintain a substantial number of religious works of art after their sale.

"The Seminary has long been a steward of these works, but this was the right time to seize an opportunity to do what is best for the artwork and for the Seminary itself," said Bishop Timothy C. Senior, Rector of Saint Charles Borromeo. "We will keep many of the paintings in our collection but the core mission of the Seminary is to form men for service in the Priesthood. We are not a museum. Our hope is that as a result of this decision the Eakins paintings will find a home where they can be well cared for and viewed widely by people from across the country. What we're doing is consistent with our overall efforts to reenergize the Seminary and focus on its mission while building for the future."

Another painting by Eakins, The Translator, has been in the care of the Seminary since 1932 but is owned by the American Catholic Historical Society (ACHS). ACHS has elected to place it for consignment sale along with the pieces owned by the Seminary. Proceeds from the sale of The Translator will revert to ACHS.

Two additional paintings are being consigned for sale by the Seminary. Bonham's has been engaged as the broker for the sale of Saint Peter's Cathedral (undated) by Colin Campbell Cooper and Sotheby's will broker the sale of Archbishop Jadot (1976) by Alice Neel. All of the artworks noted above have been removed from the Seminary and transferred to the custody of the appropriate brokering party.

Future Announcements
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary will continue to make public announcements as it reaches milestones in the fulfillment of its plan for future viability and sustainability. As it works to re-purpose the lower portion of its campus and renovate the upper portion, it will sustain ongoing dialogue with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Lower Merion Township and the community.

The Seminary has served as a leading institution in the formation of Catholic men for the Priesthood in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and dioceses throughout the country for over 180 years. As the Seminary evolves in the coming years, the four pillars of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation will remain strong.

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Editor's Note: For previous announcements regarding the future viability and sustainability of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, please visit the following links:

For general information on the Seminary, please visit

Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications

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