Conception Seminary College breaks ground on new student dormitory

Brothers Living in Unity campaign efforts begin taking shape

Photo, left to right: Eric Moore, President, and Wade Harms, Vice-President and project manager, and Bob Herring, on-site superintendent, all of E.L. Crawford Construction, Inc.; Jeff Ellison and Jeremy Proctor, Ellison-Auxier Architects, Inc.; Jim Kopp, alumni association president, regent, campaign volunteer; Tony Cordaro, alumni association; Br. Thomas Sullivan, OSB, alumni director; Rev. Pachomius Meade, OSB, Vice-Rector of Conception Seminary College; Rt. Rev. Benedict Neenan, OSB, Abbot and Chancellor; Very Rev. Victor Schinstock, OSB, President-Rector of Conception Seminary College; Mark Wiederholt, Director of Environmental Services; Jennifer Huard, Director of Development.

On Tuesday, April 6, the leadership of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College broke ground on Good Shepherd Hall, the new student dormitory building made possible by generous donors to the Brothers Living In Unity campaign.

The groundbreaking ceremony included a welcome, a blessing over the project site and construction by Rt. Rev. Benedict Neenan, OSB, abbot of Conception Abbey and chancellor of Conception Seminary College, followed by the ceremonial turning of the shovels and a photo to commemorate the event.

“The Mission of Conception Seminary College is the preparation of candidates for the ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church through spiritual, intellectual, human, and pastoral formation in the Benedictine tradition,” said Very Rev. Victor Schinstock, OSB, president-rector of Conception Seminary College.

“A sign of our commitment to this mission is the construction of this new residence hall for our seminarians, Good Shepherd Hall,” he said. “We dedicate this building to the Lord Jesus and his appointed shepherds, looking to them for intercession that our seminarians may grow in holiness and virtue in preparation for a life of service.”

Those donning hard hats and digging into the project site included Neenan and Schinstock, along with Conception Seminary College administration, monks of Conception Abbey, campaign volunteers and alumni association leadership, representatives from Ellison-Auxier Architects, Inc. and E.L. Crawford Construction, Inc. Also present, but not pictured, was Kelly Crawford, CEO of E. L. Crawford Construction, and monks and employees of Conception.

Demolition of St. Benedict Hall will occur in the coming weeks, making room for Good Shepherd Hall on the south end of campus. St. Benedict Hall had recently been used by the Abbey Guest Center but was originally constructed as a temporary dormitory in the mid-1960s.

E.L. Crawford will serve as the general contractor on the project, which should be completed in time for the students to move in at the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year.

“We have been incredibly blessed by the generous outpouring of support from our friends and benefactors,” Neenan said. “As Conception Abbey nears 150 years in northwest Missouri, we believe it is through investments like Good Shepherd Hall that we can continue our ministries long into the future.”

Conception’s Brothers Living in Unity campaign is a two-part fundraising effort to (1) secure the new residence hall to house all seminarians under one roof, further strengthening Conception’s seminary formation program and (2) build up the Monastic Retirement Endowment to ensure that Conception continues to meet the needs of our retired monks who have devoted their lives in service to the Lord.

Throughout the campaign efforts over the last two years, Conception leadership has announced many generous gifts, including a recent $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, for which Conception met the challenge goal in January 2021.

More information is available on our campaign website found at campaign.conceptionabbey.org.