On Friday, September 8 – the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – a “Topping Off” ceremony was held for Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary at its new location in Lower Gwynedd, where construction is still underway.

“There are a lot of emotions,” said Father Keith Chylinski, the Seminary’s Rector, “a lot of sadness having to leave [the Wynnewood] campus, but excitement for the new campus.”

For this “Topping Off” ceremony, various members of the seminary community, as well as the architects and engineers contributing to the construction project, gathered as the last steel beam was inserted into the structure of the seminary’s new refectory.

This last beam has special meaning. It was designated the “Marian Beam” on Saturday, August 26, when priests and seminarians gathered at the construction site, many of them seeing its progress for the first time that day.

They joined in prayer, calling on the spirit of God through the intercession of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as they prayed the Miraculous Medal Novena.

“It demonstrates faith and abounding trust in God and the Blessed Mother,” said Father Jason Buck, Dean of Men for the College Seminary, reflecting on the “Topping Off” ceremony.

“The Blessed Mother is going to take us and entrust her seminarians to the Sacred Heart of her Son, Jesus,” he said.

After the novena, all priests and seminarians were invited to sign the “Marian Beam” to mark this significant moment in the seminary’s history.

(Photo: Sarah Webb)

“The signing [of the beam] was a good opportunity to take ownership of the reality of the move,” said Father Chylinski.  “It’s a new phase of our institution.”

“It felt momentous,” said seminarian John McCabe of placing his signature on the Marian Beam.  “The move to the new campus with God’s protection and Mary’s intercession really came to life.  Things are really coming together,” said McCabe, a Lansdale resident who’s currently in IV College and part of the class of 2028.

The beam, painted white, also bears the inscription found on the Miraculous Medal, which reads, “O Mary, Conceived without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee.”

On September 8, the signed beam was installed at the “Topping Off” ceremony.  It was placed in the new refectory, where it will rest directly above the Humilitas window, which is being relocated from the Saint Martin’s Chapel in the Wynnewood location.

As the “Marian Beam” was raised up high by a construction crane, the members of the seminary community – priests, seminarians, Trustees, and staff members – looked on, as well as representatives from Aegis Property Group, W.S. Cumby Construction, Voith & Mactavish Architects, and O’Donnell & Naccarato Structural Engineers.

“It’s so sad to see us leave the Wynnewood campus, but we have great hope for the future,” said Father Buck, who had himself been a seminarian at Saint Charles’ Wynnewood campus and was ordained in 2014.

“It’s the young men and their ministries that will last forever,” he said.  “Buildings come and go, but the men are a treasure.”

To view a short video about the “Marian Beam”: https://vimeo.com/859492490.