The National Catholic Review

The Washington Theological Union is throwing in the towel. In an announcement released yesterday, WTU reported that it "does not have the financial resources to be able to continue offering its academic services to the Church and the community beyond the 2012 - 2013 academic year." (hat-tip to Heidi S. at NCR who wonders: "Who will train the next generation of religious leaders?")

“This was a difficult decision for us, not least because of the excellence of the education and formation our students are receiving,” said Very Rev. James Greenfield, OSFS, and Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We remain proud of all we’ve accomplished as a community, and of the many successes and contributions our students, faculty, staff and alumni are making to the Church.”

According to the release: "All efforts will now be focused on working with currently enrolled students to complete their studies by the 2012 - 2013 academic year. WTU, long a host to nationally recognized conferences and workshops, will continue to operate its conference center and offer lectures and programs for the Church community during this time period."

The full press release follows:

 

Washington Theological Union to Conclude its Mission in 2013

Washington Theological Union (WTU), a Roman Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry in Washington, DC, announced today that it does not have the financial resources to be able to continue offering its academic services to the Church and the community beyond the 2012 - 2013 academic year.

In recent years, WTU, like many other seminaries and religious schools, has been navigating multiple financial challenges with the recent economic downturn, decline in the number of religious vocations and a national decrease in private funding for religious initiatives. Earlier this month, the Board of Trustees, in consideration of these challenges and a declining endowment, decided to close enrollment to new students after September 2011. Classes will then continue to be held to allow current students the opportunity to complete their degrees in the time remaining before the end of the 2012 - 2013 academic year.

“This was a difficult decision for us, not least because of the excellence of the education and formation our students are receiving,” said Very Rev. James Greenfield, OSFS, and Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We remain proud of all we’ve accomplished as a community, and of the many successes and contributions our students, faculty, staff and alumni are making to the Church.”

All efforts will now be focused on working with currently enrolled students to complete their studies by the 2012 - 2013 academic year. WTU, long a host to nationally recognized conferences and workshops, will continue to operate its conference center and offer lectures and programs for the Church community during this time period.

“Let this be a time to celebrate the Union's contribution to the Church, to honor the various constituencies that made it possible, and to reaffirm the Union's values, still much needed .We will enter this final phase with dignity, a sense of accomplishment, and gratitude to God," said Very Rev. John Welch, O.Carm., Provincial of the Chicago Carmelite Province and Board of Trustees member.

WTU, which boasts over 1400 religious and lay alumni throughout Archdioceses and parishes across the nation and worldwide, has educated men and women for ministry to the Church for over 40 years. Its graduates include bishops, theologians, presidents of universities, missionaries in every part of the world, pastors and lay associates. Its faculty has included world renowned scholars, homilists, pastors, pastoral counselors, spiritual masters and directors.

Washington Theological Union has educated men and women for ministry in the Roman Catholic Church for forty years. Founded as a coalition of seminaries for men in religious communities, the Union has earned a reputation as one of the finest graduate schools for ministry in the United States. Graduates often pursue doctoral studies at major Catholic institutions as well as minister and teach around the world in settings as diverse as suburban and inner-city parishes, high school and college campuses, hospitals and hospices, homeless shelters and prison ministries. The student body consists of Catholic religious men and women, laity, ordained ministers, and students from other Christian traditions who are part of the Washington Theological Consortium. More information about the Washington Theological Union is available at http://www.wtu.edu.

Comments

ANTHONY ANDREASSI | 7/1/2011 - 11:09pm
I have a good friend who spent a sabbatical at WTU and found many of the students and the profs to be angry and bitter toward the Church and her leaders.  Is it a surprise that the school is closing?  You shall know them by their fruits
Vince Killoran | 6/29/2011 - 10:03am
I'm sorry to learn about this.  The symbolism of losing a major Catholic seminary in the nation's capital must be significant. That just leave the USCCB in Wash., D.C. and that is not good.  On the other hand, how much of an intellectiual force was the WTU?

BTW, I don't believe in ghosts and i don't accept people telling me what to think (including the media etc.).
MICHELLE FRANCL-DONNAY DR | 6/29/2011 - 9:37am
That is unlikely to be true - Franciscan graduates about 500 students a year (total), there are 230 or so Catholic colleges in the US, I doubt that their average number of theology graduates is 2 or less.  Almost 10,000 students a year graduate with a BA in theology (albeit not all of them are Catholic, or at a Catholic college).

 
Gregory Popcak | 6/29/2011 - 9:10am
Here's a factoid that responds, at least tangentially, to the question at hand. 

I was told by the former academic dean that there are more theology majors at Franciscan University of Steubenville than there are at every other Catholic university in the US combined. He assured me he was speaking literally. (Most people there are double majors in theology and something else.)