The repeating sound of sledgehammers hitting concrete could be heard from the street corner of N Astor and E Sinto, just a couple blocks north of Gonzaga University’s campus the morning of November 25, 2022. Inside, contractors and seminarians from Bishop White Seminary were all smiles as they knocked down multiple walls and tore apart cabinets in the old Mater Dei Convent.

Under the supervision of contractors, seminarians from Bishop White and Cor Christi donned hard hats and began demolition. According to Father Daniel Barnett, rector of the seminary, the destruction was a healthy way for the men to take a break from their studies and “relieve some stress.”

Although Demo Day served as a field trip for the seminarians, it was also highly practical for the following stages of construction. In the following weeks, crews will enter the building to abate the asbestos, a significant bridge between old and new construction.

In a past life, the convent was housed by local Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and was later sold off. Recently, Bishop White Seminary acquired the building. To transform the space into a home for the new Propaedeutic Year program, Cor Christi, launched earlier this year.

The convent, now known as McGivney Hall, is named after Blessed Michael McGivney, an Irish-American priest and the founder of the Knights of Columbus. More formal renovations should begin within the following weeks, with a goal of completion for the next class of Cor Christi men next fall.

Cor Christi responds to a worldwide directive from the Vatican to enhance the first year of seminary formation through a dedicated program that emphasizes integrated human formation, spiritual development, and service to the poor. This first-year experience serves to establish a solid foundation for subsequent priestly discernment and formation. This year’s inaugural Cor Christi cohort includes six men from four different dioceses across the western United States.

Funds are still needed to complete the entire renovation. Donate here. Thank you for your generosity.