Vianney College came to birth in the same year, 1992, that Pope John Paul ll published his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Pastores dabo vobis“. Thus this year, 2017, marks the 25th anniversary of our founding. Special celebrations are planned in August of this year to mark our Silver Jubilee and details can be found elsewhere on this website.
Bishop Brennan founded Vianney College to form priests for the diocese of Wagga Wagga. He saw the advantages of training priests for a rural diocese in a rural setting. It was a bold move at the time and not without controversy. However time has proved the decision was a wise one and God has blessed the diocese of Wagga Wagga with a healthy flow of vocations to the priesthood.
Bishop Gerard Hanna succeeded Bishop Brennan as bishop of Wagga Wagga in 2002 and retired, due to ill health in 2016. He will be remembered for his constant support and interest in Vianney College, enriching its programme of formation with the fruits of his own pastoral experience as a rural pastor and making provision for the future by sending priests of the diocese to do higher studies and thus providing a supply of qualified lecturers for the future. He also undertook a programme of upgrading and expanding the buildings of the seminary, and in doing so expanded our accommodation to over 30 students.
While we await the appointment of a new bishop we look forward to the future with confidence. 25 Seminarians are currently enrolled in Vianney College, now not only for the Wagga diocese but for several other rural dioceses, for some Oriental Eparchies and for several religious orders. As in other Australian seminaries, a large proportion of our seminarians are of non-Australian birth but the formation at Vianney gives them an opportunity to understand the Australian culture (and accent) and to recognise the pastoral challenges they will face from an Australian point of view.
Over our short 25 year history we have helped form 48 priests and two bishops. It is hoped that at least two more priests will be ordained this year. For all this we thank God and invite you to share our joy and thanksgiving as you visit our website. Welcome!
Father Peter Thompson, C.M.