COLUMBUS, Ohio – Official correspondence from the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, by means of a decree from Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome, announced that Reverend Msgr. Christopher J. Schreck, PhD, STD, has been named the 16th Rector / President of the Pontifical College Josephinum. Msgr. Schreck is a priest of the Diocese of Savannah, GA, and currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Josephinum.
“I am grateful to Cardinal Grocholewski; to our Apostolic Nuncio and Chancellor, Archbishop Viganò; to our Board of Trustees; and to all of our supporting bishops for the confidence they have placed in me in this appointment,” Msgr. Schreck said. “I am honored and humbled to assume these new responsibilities and, at the same time, richly blessed with the opportunity to benefit from the collaboration and assistance of the outstanding group of resident priests, administration, faculty, staff, seminarians, alumni and benefactors who make up the Josephinum family.”
Ordained for the Diocese of Savannah in 1977, Msgr. Schreck has a notable career in priestly formation and wide experience in seminary administration. Following his ordination, he served for five years as Parochial Vicar at Saint James Parish in Savannah. From 1983 to 1986 and 1991 to 1993, he served at Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, where he was Associate Professor, Professor and Academic Dean. In 1993, Msgr. Schreck began teaching at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he was also Vice Rector for many years.
In 2007, Msgr. Schreck joined the faculty of the Josephinum as a Professor of Sacred Scripture and as Executive Director of the Institute for the Formation and Ministry of the Permanent Diaconate, the seminary’s distance learning program for permanent deacons. Three years later, in April 2010, he was appointed Executive Vice President of the Josephinum and for the past two years has been responsible for the temporal concerns of the institution, working closely with the Treasurer and with the Vice Rectors of the College of Liberal Arts and School of Theology.
Msgr. Schreck holds an AB in Classical Studies from The College of William and Mary in Virginia, Williamsburg, VA; an STB from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; an SSL from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; and an STD and PhD from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
As the 16th Rector / President of the Pontifical College Josephinum, Msgr. Schreck succeeds Very Reverend James A. Wehner, STD (Diocese of Pittsburgh), who has held the position since 2009.
Father Wehner heralded his colleague’s appointment as “great news” for the Josephinum community. “Msgr. Schreck is a man of priestly communion who has earned the highest respect from administration, faculty and seminarians,” said Father Wehner. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position, having served most of his priesthood in seminary formation. Moreover, his leadership as Executive Vice President has contributed to many of the recent achievements of the Josephinum, including the completion of major renovations and an increase in our annual appeal.”
The advancement of a current administrator to the position of rector / president reflects the high caliber of the seminary’s faculty and its programs. The Josephinum’s efforts of recent years have led the institution to the national forefront of priestly formation. With a steadily-increasing enrollment and the successful recruitment of new dioceses and priest-faculty, the Josephinum is in a position of tremendous strength and stability. A seamless transition in leadership will provide valuable continuity as the seminary looks to the future.
“It is a particularly advantageous time for me to assume these new responsibilities at the Josephinum,” said Msgr. Schreck, “where the generous dedication and renowned success of Father Wehner have brought the seminary to a new level of nationally recognized achievement. It is an honor to succeed him in full continuity with his accomplishments, as well as with the Josephinum’s rich tradition and heritage, and on that foundation to build for an even brighter future.”
Among the first of those to learn of Msgr. Schreck’s appointment was the Most Reverend Ronald P. Herzog, Bishop of Alexandria, who was elected Chair of the Josephinum’s Board of Trustees at its spring meeting in April. Bishop Herzog, a 1968 alumnus of the School of Theology, assured the new rector of his prayers and noted, “I look forward to working with Monsignor Schreck to continue the great work and illustrious history of the Josephinum.”
The upcoming year of formation will be a significant one in the history of the Josephinum, as the seminary will celebrate its 125th anniversary of forming men for the priesthood. Since its founding in 1888, more than 2000 priests have been ordained from the Josephinum, formed under the guidance of the dedicated priests who have served as rectors.
Msgr. Schreck expressed a “debt of gratitude” to his predecessors, for “their care for the Josephinum which has allowed this institution for the past 125 years not only to continue to fulfill, but even to flourish in, its unique pontifical and national role in forming priests for the service of the Church.”
Father Wehner and Msgr. Schreck will spend the last days of June working together closely, to prepare for the transition in leadership. “Msgr. Schreck is a great friend, counselor and collaborator, much admired for his pastoral heart and his love for the Church,” said Father Wehner. “He will be a great spiritual father to the seminarians, a true brother to his priests, and a joyful, steady leader for the community.”
Msgr. Christopher Schreck will assume leadership of the Pontifical College Josephinum on July 1, 2012; inaugural festivities will be held in the fall when seminarians and faculty have returned to campus for the new year of formation.