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Lloyd Harbor Seminary Now a Center for Lay Catholic Formation

Domus Porta Fidei encourages young Catholics to evangelize.

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
Written by George Wallace

When it comes to being a "seed bed" for the development in the Catholic community, there’s something new under the sun at Lloyd Harbor’s Seminary of the Immaculate Conception.

For more than 80 years an institution that trained candidates for the priesthood for the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, this year the theological facility on a couple of hundred pristine acres overlooking Lloyd Harbor will begin to engage in "the ongoing formation for clergy, religious and lay people."

Simply translated, that means continuing education, conferences, retreats at the 200-bed center. And beginning this month, orientation sessions and moving in time for a residential lay community for eight single Catholics ages 22-35 who work full time or attend school in the New York City area.

It's called Domus Porta Fidei, and the goal is to provide a residential conclave for young Catholics where they may develop "an integrated Catholic identity," focus on personal spiritual development, and learn to become articulate and faithful witnesses for their religion in the broader world.

According to Ryan M. Williams, director of the new program, the lay residential community at Lloyd Harbor’s historic seminary comes in response to a call for new evangelization by John Paul II, who in 1990 urged the church to commit its energies to renewed evangelism.

“We hope that young Catholics who become part of Domus Porta Fidei will be able to witness for Christ in their respective professions, but also re-evangelize themselves,” said Williams, a Texas native who received his B.A. and an M.A. with distinction in philosophy from Boston College. “This is a new target for the church.”

Residents in the community will continue to work or study at their schools or place of employment. In the evening they will pray and socialize together, attend "formation nights," and focus on personal spiritual development. They’ll have access to the chapel, library, fitness equipment, sports courts and the beautiful grounds of the seminary.

Domus Porta Fidei is a “place apart,” he notes, in which its members will be able renew their relationship to God through prayer and communal life each day in an environment that maintains a spirit of calm reflection and allows its members to enter easily into prayer and meditation each day.

Creation of Domus Porta Fidei comes a year after the last priest in training left the Seminary of Immaculate Conception. In the Fall of 2012, the bishops of the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre entered into an agreement to aggregate the academic resources of the three dioceses for the formation of priests and deacons and the education of lay faithful throughout the New York area.  One effect of this agreement was that all seminarians in the Major Seminary were to be located at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. 

This allowed for the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception to be devoted to the formation of deacons, the continuing formation of priests, the formation of Catholic Laity --  and now, formation of a dedicated Catholic laity.

“A seminary is a ‘seed bed,' we’re just broadening that,“ said Father Gregory Rannazzisi, who in addition to being vice rector at Immaculate Conception is Catholic chaplain at Hofstra University. “We’ll be providing a home for continuing education to priests and deacons, and now, a new resource lay formation. We have redesigned what we are.”

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