History and Mission

"Make this place holy!"

In 1853, a papal envoy accompanied Bishop John Martin Henni to a site just south of Milwaukee - Henni's proposed new location for a local seminary. Legend has it that the envoy, overcome by the site's beauty, exclaimed: "Make this place holy!"


Building on a solid foundation

Bishop John Martin Henni established the Seminary in his Milwaukee residence in 1845. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee was only two years old and urgently needed priests to serve German Catholic immigrants.

Ten years later, the seminary moved just south of Milwaukee, to a site that included land from the Lake Drive Franciscan Sisters. The new building was dedicated January 29, 1856, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.

The original seminary building, named Henni Hall in 1956, was renovated in 1989 and remains the center of Seminary life.

In the 1970s, the Seminary offered graduate degree programs for lay candidates. In the 1980s, programs were added for the diaconate and for lay ministers.

Saint Francis de Sales Seminary began its academic collaboration with Sacred Heart School of Theology in 2006. Today the Seminary again focuses solely on priestly formation.


© 2014 Saint Francis de Sales Seminary | 3257 South Lake Drive | St. Francis, WI 53235 | 414-747-6400
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