New president-rector named at Sacred Heart School of Theology

Msgr. Ross Shecterle

“The charsim of our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, will continue to be the foundation for all that is done here at Sacred Heart School of Theology.”

-Fr. Thomas Cassidy, SCJ
provincial superior, U.S. Province

For the first time in its history, the president-rector’s office at Sacred Heart School of Theology  will be held by someone other than a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

Msgr. Ross Shecterle, a priest with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has been named as the next president-rector of the seminary, which is an apostolate of the U.S. Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Thomas Cassidy, SCJ, provincial superior of the U.S. Province, in consultation with the Provincial Council, made the selection on March 28.

Msgr. Shecterle will become the seminary’s 19th rector. He replaces Fr. Jan de Jong, SCJ, president-rector since 2008, who is retiring at the age of 74.

“To say that this is a significant moment for Sacred Heart School of Theology and the Priests of the Sacred Heart is an understatement,” said Fr. Cassidy.

Fr. Cassidy commented on the decision to open the role beyond the Priests of the Sacred Heart. “We decided that the mission of our seminary is more important to us than the need to keep a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the rector’s office. This was a difficult decision, but one we felt necessary to best serve the Church.

“At this moment in history, the most appropriate candidate for president-rector of Sacred Heart School of Theology is a priest from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. However, we must keep in mind that this does not close the door to the possibility of a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart returning to the office at a future time.

“More importantly, it does not mean that the identity of the Priests of the Sacred Heart leaves the seminary. The charsim of our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, will continue to be the foundation for all that is done here at Sacred Heart School of Theology.”

Significant measures have already been set in place to ensure that the charism and spirituality of the SCJ founder continues to be integral to the identity of Sacred Heart School of Theology.

“I look forward to Msgr. Shecterle’s service to an apostolate that is close to my heart, having been a former rector myself,” said Fr. Cassidy. “I look forward to working with him as he continues to advance the goals of the seminary, including its strong collaborative relationship with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and the spirituality of our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon.

Msgr. Shecterle previously served as rector of the American College of the Immaculate Conception in Louvain, Belgium, which closed last June. He was dean of students at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 2000 to 2002 and vice rector from 2002 to 2003. Students from St. Francis de Sales now do their academic training at SHST.

A licensed Ph.D. therapist, he has served on the formation faculty of the Pontifical North American College in Rome as director of counseling services, and as an invited professor in pastoral psychology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas-Angelicum, Rome.

Msgr. Shecterle earned his license in sacred theology (S.T.L.) graduating, magna cum laude, in 1994 at the Catholic University of Louvain. He earned his master’s in 1995 and his doctorate in pastoral counseling in 2000, both from Loyola College in Baltimore, Md.

He earned his master of divinity with honors from St. Francis de Sales Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986.

Msgr. Shecterle served as associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Burlington, Wis., from 1986 to 1990, and continued as assistant vocation director, director of the high school seminary program and director of college recruitment for the Milwaukee Archdiocese in the early 1990s.

A published theologian, Msgr. Shecterle is also a highly-sought speaker for academic and pastoral talks in the United States and internationally.

Transition efforts will get underway immediately; Msgr. Shecterle officially begins his term on July 1, 2012.

With approximately 140 students, Sacred Heart School of Theology is North America’s largest Catholic seminary focused on preparing men over 30 for priesthood.