The Redemptoris Mater Seminary will close in a few months – its closure prompted by the seminary's unsustainable model of operation.
A difficult decision
According to Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, the seminary produces priests who serve on island for some time and then move on to missions in other parts of the world. While this may work in areas with larger Catholic populations, it is not sustainable for Guam, Byrnes said.
"This has been a very difficult decision, but I think it's the right one to move ahead with the Archdiocese of Agana," Byrnes said.
There are between 15 and 20 seminarians attending the seminary currently.
The Archdiocese of Agana is looking to sell the ocean view former hotel that the seminary currently occupies. The property will be sold as part of efforts to establish a settlement fund for alleged victims in the multiple sex abuse cases against the archdiocese. The former Accion Hotel was once worth about $40 million and was donated to the church by donors who put together $2 million, Post files show.
A new appraisal for the former hotel was made. The estimated value or market price was not disclosed, but Byrnes said numbers floating in the public sphere range from $2 million to $70 million.
Financial struggles have affected the archdiocese, rocked by the multiple sex abuse lawsuits seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
The seminary is being closed by the end of the year so the archdiocese can get some lead time ahead of a March or April date for the possible settlement, Byrnes confirmed today. He added that the archdiocese wanted the property to be available in case settlement is reached.
A transition team will be set up for the seminarians to move to other seminaries, according to the archdiocese, as well as to work on potential sale and care of the property.
‘Saddens me deeply’
Businessman Sonny Ada said the closure of the seminary is unfortunate.
He helped raise money for the seminary during the annual fundraising events.
"Taking away the building is fine, but the closure of the institute of RMS is really unfortunate and saddens me deeply," Ada said. "I have seen the miracles of the RMS and the Neocatechumenal Way."
"Our island has so much suffering going on: divorces, suicides, family violence, addictions and so on," Ada said. "To me, our church has essentially cut off a channel of hope for the suffering. A channel for more priests to bring God's word to the suffering."