About St. Patrick’s Seminary & University

On September 20, 1898, five Sulpician priests and 34 young men gathered at the somewhat remote location of Menlo Park to inaugurate what was to become the preeminent seminary on the West Coast – St. Patrick’s Seminary. At its inception, St. Patrick’s was the only institution of its type west of the Rocky Mountains. One hundred and twenty-five years later, Menlo Park is no longer so remote, and St. Patrick’s Seminary continues to form good men as the future pastors of the Catholic Church.

On the morning of April 18, 1906, St. Patrick’s, the “apple of Archbishop Riordan’s eye,” was severely damaged within seconds. Amazingly, no one was injured. The administration juggled rooms for the next three years, and the students shifted as construction continued. However, the daily routine of the seminary carried on much as usual. By March 10, 1908, work had advanced so that the inscription “Saint Patrick’s Seminary, Rebuilt, A.D. 1908” was carved into the seminary’s new front. Still, full reconstruction was completed until the beginning of the 1909-1910 school year.

By 1921, the seminary became crowded and additional space was needed. As a result, St. Joseph’s College in Mountain View opened for the 1924-1925 school year, thus relieving the stress on St. Patrick’s. Students would complete the first six years of studies at St. Joseph’s and then continue at St. Patrick’s for Philosophy and Theology.

During the 1960s, St. Patrick’s Seminary’s stable life dramatically changed with the Second Vatican Council’s conclusion. As one alumnus put it, “I felt we experienced 500 years in a period of six years.” Simultaneously, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War gave immediacy and intensity to the student movement.

By 1973, the seemingly endless social traumas of the 1960s ended, and the faculty restored a sense of cohesiveness at the seminary. Over the next quarter century, St. Patrick’s developed a substantial pastoral, academic, and spiritual program in keeping with the mandates of the Second Vatican Council.

In recent years the demographic makeup of the seminary has caused an increase in diversity, the average age, and the heritage of our seminarians. This change has added immensely to the cultural richness of our community.

In 1994, the arrival of the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest from Mexico further enhanced the cultural richness at St. Patrick’s. The Oblate Sisters have responded to God’s call through lives of contemplation and apostolic work, offering support service to the St. Patrick’s community. By providing their lives daily as an oblation, the Sisters build the Kingdom by assisting in the sanctification of priests. For example, the sisters accompanied seminarians and priests as Mary accompanied her son Jesus. 

Most recently, St. Patrick’s has undergone a renewal phase with an increase in enrollment; the diocese of Albany, New York, will join the St. Patrick’s Community in the Fall of 2023. In addition, the campus is undergoing much-needed renovations in its chapel, hallways, and grounds. All to provide an environment of tranquil beauty aligned with our student’s spiritual, intellectual, human, and pastoral preparation.

For the past 125 years, St. Patrick’s Seminary has successfully prepared men to become Roman Catholic priests in conformity to Christ. Its expansive park-like grounds, historic chapel, modern classrooms, and extensive library provide an ideal environment for prayer, meditation, and study within proximity to major urban centers that offer rich field education opportunities. The integrated process of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation at St. Patrick’s Seminary revolves around our core values of Spiritual Fatherhood, Fidelity, Holiness, Wisdom, Evangelization, Resiliency, and Compassion.