Historical Reflections on the FSSP’s 34th Anniversary

Today the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter celebrates its 34th anniversary. For the benefit of the many new souls in our parishes who are just learning about us, it is a good time to take stock and reflect on the FSSP’s founding and growth.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was founded by eleven priests, one deacon, and a handful of seminarians at the Abbey of Hauterive in the French Alps on July 18, 1988. Only three months later, on October 18, the Fraternity was established as a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right by Pope John Paul II.

The first priestly ordination for the new community took place in Rome in December, 1988. In the fall of 1989, the first Fraternity seminary, the Seminary of St. Peter, opened its doors in the small Bavarian town of Wigratzbad. The seminary offers priestly formation to students from more than a dozen countries. In Europe, priests of the Fraternity work in, among other venues, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy.

The Fraternity’s work in the New World began in 1991 in Dallas, Texas. The months that followed saw the establishment of two additional apostolates: Rapid City, South Dakota and Scranton, Pennsylvania. It was the invitation to Scranton by Bishop James C. Timlin that would prove most significant for the Fraternity’s future growth.

The North American Headquarters was moved there in 1993 and both a year-long program for prospective seminarians and a boarding school for boys opened in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania, a few miles outside of Scranton. In 1994, Bishop Timlin approved the establishment of a full-fledged seminary, with one year to be added to the academic program each year. In 2000, the first men to complete the full seven-year course at the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary were ordained to the priesthood.

By 1997, growing enrollment had forced the seminary to relocate to a closed hotel in Paupack, Pennsylvania. A few months later, the decision was made to build a new seminary in the Diocese of Lincoln, with the kind permission of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. Ground was broken for this exciting project—the first seminary to be built “from the ground up” in the United States in decades—on October 3, 1998. Classes began there in September of 2000.

Today, the over 300 priests of the Fraternity work in many dioceses throughout the world, including in Europe, the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South and Central America, and Africa.

October 18, 2022