Seminarians and Aspirants walk down the hall of the new St. Isaac Jogues House of Formation in Albany. (Photo by Rich Pagano)
Seminarians and Aspirants walk down the hall of the new St. Isaac Jogues House of Formation in Albany. (Photo by Rich Pagano)

Aspirant Daniel Vallejo navigates carefully around the clusters of cardboard boxes scattered throughout his room. Each box is filled with bibles, textbooks, house supplies or various pieces of his life from his hometown in Medellin, Colombia, which has been packed and carried away to downtown Albany. 

Before moving to Albany, Mr. Vallejo lived in the St. Isaac Jogues House of Discernment, located in the former St. Brigid’s Church rectory in Watervliet, where the Diocese housed seminarians and “aspirants” — men who are discerning whether to move forward to priesthood.  

Last year, the number of men in formation for the priesthood for the Albany Diocese had outgrown the available space at the Watervliet building and the search began for a new home. 

Now, Mr. Vallejo is one of 10 men moving into the new St. Isaac Jogues House of Formation, located at 93 Park Ave. in ­Albany, just down the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Bishop Maginn High School.

“This house gives me the opportunity to get to know the mother church and meet more people around here,” said Mr. Vallejo. 

“It’s such a blessing for us,” said Very Rev. Anthony Ligato, diocesan vicar for vocations and pastor of St. Jude parish in Wynantskill and St. Michael the Archangel in Troy. “It encourages men to answer that call. Nobody else can do that, but we can provide a place to gather together.”

Approximately 35 men are either discerning the path or on their way to the priesthood in the Albany Diocese, said Father Ligato. Twenty-two men are currently in seminary, while 11 are participating in the house of formation and two are still discerning their paths. 

Father Ligato said that needing to move into a larger space to accommodate the growing number of men discerning “is a wonderful problem to have.”

The new building is originally the home of the cathedral covenant, which was built to house 18 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Only four were still living in the building last year, but all were willing to relocate for the cause. 

The new St. Isaac Jogues House of Formation contains 20 rooms and can house up to 18 men. Rev. L. Edward Deimeke, retired pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet, will be staying in the new house as the priest-in-residence to assist with any housing needs.

The house also contains a chapel with stained glass windows and seating for up to 40 people, a large dining room that can seat up to 30, a community room, library and parking lot.

The building’s location offers seminarians a chance to work closely with the cathedral parish, nearby Catholic schools, and with charitable groups in the downtown area, such as local food pantries. 

“It just provides such an opportunity for us to continue to expand our seminary,” said Father Ligato.