History of St. Joseph Minor Seminary
Teutopolis (population: 1,530) is located in east central Illinois in Effingham County.
US Route 40 (also known as National Road or the Cumberland Trail) is the main thoroughfare thru the community, which is just
three miles east of the county seat, Effingham. Interstate 70 passes a few miles north of Teutopolis (also known as "T-Town"),
and Interstate 57 intersects with it by Effingham.
The community is known for its German heritage, as Teutopolis in German stands for "home of the Teutons
(or Germans)." It was founded in 1839 by immigrants from the old country who were looking for land that was suitable for farming,
had plentiful game, and drained well, which was uncommon since most communities were founded by the placement of railroads
or stage coach trails. More about its' history can be found at: http://www.teutopolis.com/History__Additional_Info/126/a.
St. Joseph Minor Seminary was opened by the Franciscan Friars of Holy Cross Province of
Saxony (aka the Franciscans) in 1862 in Teutopolis at the request of the Bishop of Alton, who wished to start a college
for seminarians and Catholic lay students as a training ground for priests who would eventually serve the parishes in the
Alton Diocese (which at the time, encompassed the southern third of Illinois). Named St. Joseph's College and Seminary, it
became reality on September 16, 1862 when 58 students and eight seminarians began classes.
The Franciscans became overwhelmed within a few years with fulfilling needs in education and missionary
work, so the seminary was closed in 1865 in order to focus on the college, which was also known as St. Joseph Ecclesiastical
College. A six-year classical course of study was offered from that point.
In February 1898, the Friars decided to change things around by admitting students that wanted to become
part of the Franciscan order, and the name changed again to St. Joseph's Seraphic Center as it admitted students that wished
to attend the preparatory (or minor) seminary.
St. Joseph remained open as a preparatory seminary in Teutopolis until it was transferred to Westmont in
the western suburbs of Chicago in 1927. At that time, it was offering a six-year course of study with the first four as a
high school classical course and the last two for religious training. The remainder of the order along with other seminarians
remained in Teutopolis until the mid-1960's when they relocated to the Chicagoland area.
The minor seminary closed in 1978 in Westmont, but the Franciscans' presence is still alive in Teutopolis.
Today, a memorial tower remains standing as a reminder of the former school in Teutopolis, and a museum has been opened
in the former living quarters of the friars adjacent to St. Francis Church in T-Town.