The Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Denver was erected on March 25, 1996, by then Archbishop J. Francis Stafford and confirmed on December 11, 1998, by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
This seminary is a fruit of the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, which stated in its Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests: "Let priests remember, therefore, that the care of all churches must be their intimate concern. Hence, priests of such dioceses as are rich in vocations should show themselves willing and ready, with the permission of their own ordinaries (bishops), to volunteer for work in other regions, missions or endeavors which are poor in numbers of clergy."
". . . To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries . . . by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church." P.O. 10.
Cardinal Pio Laghi, then prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and head of the Vatican Interdicasterial Commission instituted by Pope John Paul II to study the grave scarcity of priests in some areas, acknowledged in the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano, March 15, 1991:
"This idea of the Council (for international diocesan missionary seminaries) has been applied in the 'Redemptoris Mater' seminaries which prepare presbyters for the new evangelization . . . this would realize a new form of ministry: the diocesan missionary."
Pope John Paul II established the first Redemptoris Mater seminary for the Diocese of Rome in 1987. Its statutes were reviewed in depth by the Congregation for Catholic Education under its Prefect William Cardinal Baum, who praised and approved them. Since then, 51 bishops around the world have followed the example of the Holy Father by opening Redemptoris Mater diocesan missionary seminaries. One of these is the Archdiocese of Newark from which more than fifty priests have been ordained since 1993.
The priests being formed in Redemptoris Mater of Denver are diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Denver. The Archbishop may appoint them to a parish or for any other service in the Archdiocese or may send them to serve in other dioceses of the world whose bishops may ask for help. In the latter case, the Archbishop and the requesting bishop would formalize their agreement according to the Vatican mandate (Postquam Apostoli) on the redistribution of priests.
Given the universal missionary purpose of this seminary and the increasing globalization of today, candidates from all over the world help to create an open environment without any discrimination of language, culture or race. Thus making visible the new reality announced by Christ where there is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, but unity in Christ Jesus.
Another specific element of this seminary is the linkage of the presbyteral formation with the formation in the Neocatechumenal Way. Recognized by Pope John Paul II as an "itinerary of Catholic formation valid for our society and our time," the Neocatechumenal Way is a post-baptismal catechumenate lived in small communities in the parishes.
There are 34 seminarians from 13 countries in Redemptoris Mater of Denver. Six are from the United States. They attend classes at the Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary together with the seminarians of the other archdiocesan seminary.
In June 2003 were ordained the first two priests from Redemptoris Mater Seminary. They are actually working in two parishes in Denver.