Home is often defined as a physical structure or dwelling place, but in the Diocese of Phoenix, the word home means so much more.  

It calls to mind a sense of accompaniment and belonging — it’s a space where we are seen, formed and intentionally fostered in our individual gifts and stories. It’s also the place of our roots, as well as the place we can always come back to, a place of comfort, stability and security because it is at home that we are fully known and loved. 

This sense of home is deeply integrated into every aspect of Nazareth Seminary, the first fully local seminary formation program in the Diocese of Phoenix.  

“When I think of faith formation, the word ‘home’ immediately comes to mind,” said Bishop John P. Dolan, the fifth Bishop of Phoenix. “Jesus was raised in a loving household, formed by Mary and Joseph and their families. In this nurturing environment, Christ grew in wisdom and prepared for His future ministry. 

“Nazareth Seminary is modeled after this success story.”  

Bishop Dolan announced the development of this historic seminary in October 2023. 

Seminarians share a communal meal at Nazareth House, photo taken in 2022 by Billy Hardiman.

For more than a decade, the majority of seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix have received their formation at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Local formation will allow future priests of the diocese to foster a deep care, understanding and pastoral heart for the geographical area they are called to shepherd. 

“Not only will this be a great program for our guys as we are moving away from an institutional model to more of a homestyle model, where seminarians and their formators live, pray, study, cook and care for the home together,” said Bishop Dolan, “but a local seminary also allows our guys to really get to know the cultures, parishes and people they may one day serve as priests.” 

Nazareth Seminary will incorporate this innovative “homestyle” model through introductory studies and human formation at Nazareth House in Phoenix, established in 2019. The spiritual formation component takes place at Our Lady of Perpetual Help House in Scottsdale, Ariz., established in August 2023. Discipleship and philosophical studies will unfold at St. Mary’s House in downtown Phoenix, slated to open in the fall of 2024. The next phase, comprised of theological studies will occur at St. Joseph House in Phoenix, due to open in the fall of 2026. From there, seminarians will be ordained transitional deacons and spend their final months integrating into parish life.  

By 2026, all new seminarians studying with the Diocese of Pheonix will receive their full priestly formation locally. 


This broad view of Nazareth Seminary is incredibly exciting for the Diocese of Phoenix, and it all begins with the intentional formation of the heart of each individual seminarian.  

“The process of formation is very intentional,” said Fr. Kurt Perera, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Phoenix. “Each decision, even to the detail of which patron saint is placed next to the seminarian’s name tag on his door, is made with the particular man in mind. We always consider what his needs are and what will help him to best grow and discern.” 

Each of the four formation homes, in addition to fostering a healthy communal life and integrated studies, also provides opportunities for personal formation through regular counseling and spiritual direction opportunities. In this nurturing environment, seminarians experience growth and healing as they are prepared for future ministry.

Seminarians volunteer at local Catholic Charities as part of their human formation | Billy Hardiman

“Our role is to form a man who is healthy, well-rounded and who can relate and engage in our current culture,” continued Fr. Perera. “And from there we form the man into a priest.”    

The Diocese of Phoenix is slotted to have 47 seminarians in formation this fall.  

This attuned and intentional formation continues year-round, including in these warm summer months. Every seminarian receives a summer assignment, intended to help them develop the special gifts and talents they already have, as well as to be stretched in needed areas of growth. Most seminarians are assigned to parishes, diocesan ministries and local charities in the Diocese of Phoenix. 


The Diocesan Pastoral Center in downtown Phoenix is filled with a lot more joy this summer as 11 seminarians fill extra cubicles and enter into a variety of ministries for two months of service.  

“Most of the seminarians working at the Diocesan Pastoral Center this summer are in the discipleship phase of formation,” said Fr. Perera. “So, they’re learning to share the Gospel in different ways, whether that be in the communications office, the discipleship office or prison ministry.  

“These assignments help the men to understand how the different offices of the diocese work together to spread the Gospel.”  

Daniel Carlisi, a Prescott, Ariz., native and seminarian of three years is currently spending his summer in the Office of Evangelization, Discipleship and Spirituality at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. But he was particularly impacted by his assignment in prison ministry last summer. 

“Working with Kevin Starrs, director of prison ministry, was a huge blessing,” said Carlisi. “Just the ease with which he enters into people’s lives and very challenging situations of folks who are in prison, drug addiction and difficult family situations with compassion, real compassion.  

“Being his shadow was great because it just naturally helped me to grow in ministering to folks. It helped me to see that we are not separate from those we are ministering to. We struggle together.”  

When asked what drew him to discern in the Diocese of Pheonix, Carlisi shared, “Simply because it’s my home. When I was hearing the call to the priesthood, it was just very natural for me to stay in the place where I grew up. It’s where my extended family is, so it was very organic.”  

Ulengabo Mangye (left), Daniel Carlisi (center) and Cristopher Arteaga (right), three seminarians currently completing summer assignments at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in downtown Phoenix. Brett Meister | The Catholic Sun

Ulengabo Mangye, a seminarian who will begin theological studies in the fall and is serving in Black Catholic Ministry at St. Josephine Bakhita Mission Parish in Phoenix this summer, had similar sentiments in calling the Diocese of Phoenix, where his family resides, home.  

“I spent my whole life growing up in a refugee camp in Tanzania, until I was 20 years old,” said Mangye. “That is where I encountered the Catholic Church. When my family came to the U.S. I spent four years discerning my vocation in a very fruitful process with the Claretian Missionaries in Chicago, Illinois before joining the Diocese of Phoenix in the fall of 2023. 

“After opening my heart to the community I am called to serve now, and God willing in the near future as a priest,” continued Mangye, “the Diocese of Phoenix has become my home as I come to live with and know more closely my brothers and sisters in Christ whom I call my family members.” 

Carlisi, who will finish his studies in Denver, and Mangye, who will finish his studies in San Antonio, Texas, are excited that full formation will soon take place locally for future seminarians who also call the Diocese of Phoenix home. 


The establishment of Nazareth Seminary is historic for the Diocese of Phoenix, and it is just the beginning — a new seed planted to foster flourishing vocations for generations to come. 

This is a projected $50 million dollar project, and Bishop Dolan extends a personal invitation to the faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix to “roll up our sleeves and go about this good work together of fostering the hearts of young men, the future shepherds of our Church.”  

All are invited to prayer, asking the Lord how He is calling each one of us to personally steward our time, talent, and treasure toward the formation of our future priests at Nazareth Seminary.  

Seminarians after attending the annual Chrism Mass earlier this year. Brett Meister | The Catholic Sun

“I’m thankful for the generous people that care about the seminarians’ formation and want to help them grow not just spiritually but humanly,” said Cristopher Arteaga, a first-year seminarian who will continue his formation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help House in the fall.  

“People desire to have holy priests and an abundance of graces are coming from these donations that you are giving. You are contributing to forming holy priests in this diocese, starting from year one at Nazareth House to, God willing, ordination.” 

Home truly is where the heart is. With your generosity, Nazareth Seminary will become home to the future seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix for generations to come. 

Make a donation to support Nazareth Seminary today at priests.dphx.org. To learn more about Nazareth Seminary, click here.