The Saint Paul Seminary recently learned that Bishop Mathias Loras, bishop of Dubuque from 1837-1858, owned a slave, Marie Louise, from 1836-1852. This news came from research conducted by Loras College in Iowa and shared with the University of St. Thomas (UST) in September 2020 (A link to Dr. Julie Sullivan’s statement can be found here.)
This unsettling news is connected to The Saint Paul Seminary as a former seminary residence building was named for Bishop Loras. He died in 1858, nearly 40 years before the founding of The Saint Paul Seminary in 1894.
In 1913, Bishop James McGolrick, who at the time was Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Paul, recommended to the seminary board that the seminary residence halls be named for three early ecclesial leaders here: Bishop Loras, who oversaw this region until the Diocese of Saint Paul was created in 1850; Bishop Joseph Cretin, the first bishop of Saint Paul; and Bishop Thomas Grace, his successor.
Many years later, these three buildings became property of UST as part of the affiliation agreement between the seminary and the university in 1986.
Slavery and racial injustice are intrinsically evil and are a painful part of the history of our country. One of the seminary’s core values is truth, and I firmly believe that we must acknowledge the truth in order to move forward. Only in Christ are we truly set free, and we call on Him in all things to illuminate our way.
Please join the seminary community as we pray that the dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God, may be respected. Let us pray especially for those most affected by the sins of racism and slavery. Further, we are grateful that UST, as current owners of the building, will be taking time to consider appropriate next steps in addressing this matter, as explained in Dr. Sullivan’s statement.
While acknowledging our painful past, we remain committed to our mission of providing integrated, Catholic formation for those called to serve as priests, deacons, or lay leaders in their local Church. Together, we have an opportunity to move forward with faithful confidence and humility that we can set the Church on fire with the Holy Spirit and transform the world in Jesus Christ.