About St. Patrick's Seminary & University

On September 20, 1898, five Sulpician priests and 34 young men gathered at the somewhat remote location of Menlo Park to inaugurate what was to become the preeminent seminary on the West Coast – St. Patrick’s Seminary. At the time of its inception, St. Patrick’s was the only institution of its type west of the Rocky Mountains. One hundred and twenty years later, Menlo Park is no longer so remote and other seminaries have sprung up in the west, but St. Patrick’s Seminary continues in its efforts to form courageous men of reflection and action who live joyous lives as priests.

On the morning of April 18, 1906, disaster struck the seminary. Within a matter of seconds, the “apple of Archbishop Riordan’s eye” was severely damaged. Amazingly, no seminarians or faculty were killed or injured. Over the course of the next three years, rooms were juggled and students shifted as reconstruction took place. The daily routine of the seminary carried on much as normal. By March 10, 1908, work had advanced to the point that the inscription “Saint Patrick’s Seminary, Rebuilt, A.D. 1908” was carved into the seminary’s new front, but full reconstruction was not completed until the beginning of the 1909-1910 school year.

By 1921, the Seminary had become so crowded that additional space was needed. St. Joseph’s College in Mountain View was ready for the 1924-1925 school year, thus relieving the stress on St. Patrick’s. Students would take their first six years of studies at St. Joseph’s and then come to St. Patrick’s for Philosophy and Theology.

During the 1960’s, the stable life of St. Patrick’s Seminary dramatically changed with the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. As one alumnus put it, “I felt we experienced 500 years in a period of six years.” Simultaneously, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War gave immediacy and intensity to the student movement.

By 1973, the seemingly endless social traumas of the 1960’s had all but played themselves out. A sense of cohesiveness was restored at the seminary life. Over the course of the next quarter century, St. Patrick’s developed a substantial pastoral, academic, and spiritual program in keeping with the mandates of the Second Vatican Council.

In recent years, the demographic makeup of the seminary has shifted dramatically. In addition to an increase in the age of the average seminarian, St. Patrick’s is experiencing an explosion in diversity among its seminarians. There has been the growth of newer ethnic groups at the seminary, particularly Hispanic, Asian (e.g. Filipino and Vietnamese), and Pacific Islander. They have added immensely to the cultural richness of the seminary. Ethnic celebrations have become common features on the St. Patrick’s campus.

The ethnic diversity of the seminary community was further enhanced by the 1994 arrival of the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest from Mexico. The Oblate Sisters have responded to God’s call through lives of contemplation and apostolic work, offering support service to faculty, seminarians, and wider St. Patrick’s community. By offering their lives daily as an oblation, the Sisters build the Kingdom by assisting in the sanctification of priests. The sisters accompany seminarians and priests as Mary accompanied her son Jesus. 

For the past 124 years, St. Patrick’s Seminary has successfully prepared men to become Roman Catholic priests in conformity to Christ. Its expansive park-like grounds, historic chapel, modern classrooms, and extensive library provide an ideal environment for prayer, meditation, and study, within close proximity to major urban centers that provide rich field education opportunities. The integrated process of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation at St. Patrick’s Seminary revolves around our core values of Spiritual Fatherhood, Fidelity, Holiness, Wisdom, Evangelization, Resiliency, and Compassion.