Renovation underway for the third residence of the diocese’s St. Joseph House of Formation

Crews were in demolition mode last week at the Vianney House, located across the street and south of St. Joseph Church in Wichita. The former convent is being renovated for use as a third residence for the St. Joseph House of Formation, the diocesan college seminary. (Advance photo)

The idea that a second residence would be needed when the St. Joseph House of Formation was founded seven years ago would have been ridiculous, according to Fr. Chad Arnold.

The House of Formation is currently renovating its third residence.

Fr. Arnold, the director of the St. Joseph House of Formation, one of two hats he wears for the Diocese of Wichita, said the story of the House of Formation for him is: “Every time there is a need, the Holy Spirit drops a solution into it.”

Fr. Arnold said he and others involved in the seminary program didn’t plan beyond a single residence on the St. Joseph Parish Campus in Wichita. “And then we came to a point where to do what we were doing…we needed a second house – and then one became available. They were a little rougher than we anticipated and then we were given a bequest that allowed us to do a makeover. We thought we were set for life.”

Need more room

The two residences of the St. Joseph House of Formation are beginning to burst at the seams, he said, and unforeseen space needs have arisen.

“And a third place comes up!” Fr. Arnold said. “Where else in the Catholic world are there three convents and rectories literally that close to each other that just become available? It is so unique, that it can’t be anything but the Holy Spirit just kind of blessing and guiding as the needs arise.”

Fr. Arnold said he might come to believe that he doesn’t have to plan for the future “because the Holy Spirit has been so good at providing. I don’t know why I’m trying to predict what’s going to happen two or three years from now – I’m just along for the ride!”

Study at Newman U.

The St. Joseph House of Formation seminarians study philosophy at Newman University and currently live in either the Borromeo House, a former rectory named after St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of seminarians; or the Hennessy House, a nearby former convent named after Bishop John J. Hennessy, the first bishop of the diocese. Both are on the St. Joseph Parish campus in central Wichita.

The third house currently undergoing renovation will be named the Vianney House, after the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. It formerly belonged to the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend and is located south of St. Joseph Church.