Cardinals and Seminarians

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!"

Saint Francis de Sales Seminary Christ King Chapel 1931 Bishop John Martin Henni
Saint Francis de Sales Seminary circa 1862 Christ King Chapel 1931 Bishop John Martin Henni

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, designed by Victor Schulte, was dedicated January 29, 1856, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.  

A few months after the start of the Civil War, in 1861, Bishop Henni consecrated Christ King Chapel and the original 11-foot, gilded cross was placed on top of the cupola.  The first two rectors, Rev. Michael Heiss and Rev. Joseph Salzmann, are interred in the chapel's sanctuary.  Archbishop Henni is buried at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee.

Additions were made to the orginal building in 1868 and 1875.  It was renamed Henni Hall in 1956, the centenary of the Seminary's dedication.  Henni Hall was renovated in 1989 and remains the center of Seminary life today.  

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.

Mission Statement

Saint Francis de Sales Seminary forms the hearts, minds and souls of men called by Jesus Christ to serve God's people as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.


"You are the Salt of the Earth." (Matthew 5:13a)


Since 1845, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, continues to form men for ordination to the priesthood in the traditions and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  This formation integrates the human, pastoral, spiritual and intellectual dimensions of the Program of Priestly Formation.  The intellectual formation is done in collaboration with Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.  In partnership with the people of God, seminarians experience the ministry and rhythm of parish life through the parish teaching program.



Many ways to give

Any donation to the Seminary is greatly appreciated, and there are many options for giving.
To make an online donation, please click here►.

© 2017 Saint Francis de Sales Seminary | 3257 South Lake Drive | St. Francis, WI 53235 | 414-747-6400
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