Rector Fr. Peter Harman to end term at North American College seminary in Rome

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Pope Francis’ with Fr. Peter Harman, rector of the Pontifical North American College, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Sept. 29, 2021. / Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Oct 20, 2021 / 11:57 am (CNA).

Fr. Peter Harman will end his term as rector of the Pontifical North American College, a seminary for U.S. students in Rome, at the end of January 2022.

The NAC announced the completion of Harman’s term in a press release on Oct. 20. He will return to his diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

Harman was appointed rector of the NAC for a five-year term which started in February 2016. In July 2020, he was asked to stay on as rector for an additional year to maintain consistent leadership through the coronavirus pandemic.

He succeeded Bishop James Checchio, who was rector of the college for 11 years.

Commenting on the announcement, Fr. Harman said he felt both blessed and humbled to have been asked to serve on the faculty and as rector of the NAC.

“We have been blessed to be able to make many improvements to our facilities and our community life,” he said. “Now I am excited that God’s never-failing providence has called me to return home to the presbyterate and faithful, family and friends in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

“I am profoundly grateful for all who have assisted me and supported me in this role during the last six years, and who help make the college such a special place for the life of the Church. I leave very edified and confident that the important work going on here will continue to bear fruit in the years to come,” Harman said.

Harman’s bishop, Thomas Paprocki, said that the diocese had been pleased to share the priest’s gifts in the service of the universal Church, but they “have missed him here in his home diocese and we look forward to his return to resume pastoral ministry among the People of God in Central Illinois.”

The next rector has not yet been announced. The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy will appoint Harman’s successor in consultation with the NAC’s board of governors, the press release said.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, the chairman of the board of governors, said: “Fr. Harman has provided exceptional leadership as a stable and careful caretaker of the seminary, its seminarians, faculty, and staff.”

“The entire board is grateful for his years of outstanding service to the college — as well as for his willingness to extend his term during the pandemic. He has been a blessing to the Church and to our community.”

Installation Mass of Reverend Peter Harman at the NAC, Feb. 28, 2016. . PNAC Photo Service.
Installation Mass of Reverend Peter Harman at the NAC, Feb. 28, 2016. . PNAC Photo Service.

Harman was the NAC’s 23rd rector since it was established in 1859. Past rectors include American Church figures such as Archbishop Martin John O’Connor, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

More than 200 seminarians and graduate priests from the United States and Australia are currently studying at the college.

On Oct. 14, Fr. Joshua J. Rodrigue, the NAC’s director of spiritual formation, was named rector and president of the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He will begin on July 1, 2022.

Fr. Peter Harman was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, in July 1999. He was a student at the NAC from 1995 to 2000, and received a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsianum in Rome.

As a young priest, Harman served at the Diocese of Springfield’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where he eventually went on to be pastor for five years.

In 2010, Harman earned a doctorate in sacred theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He started as a faculty member at the NAC in 2013, and also served in the roles of director of media relations and an adjunct instructor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

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