Diocese wants to move seminary to Trumbull

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport would like to move its seminary back to Trumbull, and is proposing a zone amendment that would allow the diocese to apply for a special permit to do so.

In the zone amendment, a seminary is defined as an educational institution that prepares students to be priests, ministers or rabbis.

Attorney Raymond Rizio, who is representing the diocese, discussed the zone amendment during a public hearing at last Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The amendment would add seminaries to the town’s “special permit uses in residential zones” regulation. Currently, the regulation allows nonprofits, places of worship, and schools associated with either, to apply for a special permit for construction in a residential zone.

While a seminary is both a school and place of worship, it is not clear in the regulation that this use is permitted, Rizio said.

“This commission gives up none of its rights,” Rizio said of the amendment. “We would still need to apply for a special permit.”

While the hearing last week was specifically on the zone amendment, Rizio said the diocese would like to have a seminary on its Daniels Farm Road property, currently home to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“This bishop is very hands-on and he feels it is important to have the seminarians with the bishop,” Rizio said.

The use of the property as a seminary is nothing new, according to Rizio. In the 1990s Bishop Edward Egan started the St. John Fisher Seminary in a former convent on the Daniels Farm Road property. It eventually outgrew the space and is now in Stamford.

The seminary program is a two-year program, with 15 to 20 students at a time, ages 19 to 35. The two-year program gets future priests ready for a four-year program offered elsewhere.

Trumbull’s director of planning, Jamie Bratt, told the commission she would like more time to look over the proposal and work with the applicant and try to simplify it.

“I’d like more time to review this with attorney Rizio,” she said. “It’s getting a little complex.”

The hearing will be continued at an upcoming meeting.

Rizio said there are many factors that would make Trumbull an ideal location for the seminary, including proximity to Fairfield University and Sacred Heart.

“It started here in Trumbull and we’d like to bring it back to Trumbull,” Rizio said of the seminary.