100 Years Since Nazareth Hall (Pt. 4)

Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary is the essential prequel to the story of Saint John Vianney College Seminary. How could we celebrate 100 years of college seminary formation in this Archdiocese without acknowledging where the first 47 years quietly took place along the beautiful shores of Lake Johanna, north of St. Paul? SJV was delighted to sit down with four alumni and capture their remembrances from four years of high school and two years of college at the hallowed grounds of 3003 Snelling Avenue North.

Jim Cahill
Nazareth Hall 1959-1961
University of Minnesota Graduate,
Husband, Father of Four, Grandfather of Nine,
Missionary, Member of People of Praise

Q: What were your first impressions of Nazareth Hall?
A: There were priests everywhere, living examples of what a Catholic man should look like and how he should behave, that made it very special, powerful, and holy. Such contrast to the world for a young man of 18 or 19 to be brought up here. All that influence, the wonder of the Catholic faith, the purity of it – so much was given to us.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from Nazareth Hall?
A: There were about 16 priests at Nazareth Hall. One would say Mass so 15 would have to say Mass somewhere else, and we would occasionally be assigned to serve a priest’s Mass  in the crypt. It was really a privilege to have that one-on-one time with a priest as you were aspiring to be like him. Afterwards, the German nuns had a special breakfast for you of bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice at a little table. That was a good part of it too.

Q: What did your time at Nazareth Hall teach you?
A: It taught you how to pray. Twenty-year-old guys don’t normally pray four times a day! Life was busy even back in the 1960s. We would go out to the main gate on Snelling Avenue, see all the traffic going by, then disappear back into the solitude of those many acres. That separation was important to form the heart and mind of men preparing for the priesthood, to learn solitude and peace being away from the world’s many distractions.

Our interview with Father Martin Siebenaler (Nazareth Hall ’47-53) will be published next week.

This interview was originally published in the Fall 2023 Vianney News magazine.

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