Supreme Knight Carl Anderson (right) and Supreme Secretary Emilio Moure stand with Cardinal Jaime Ortega outside the new national Catholic seminary on the outskirts of Havana. The supreme knight and supreme secretary attended the special dedication Mass for the seminary on Nov. 4.
In ceremonies Nov. 3-5, the Catholic Church in Cuba inaugurated its first new seminary in more than a half century. The project was largely funded by the Knights of Columbus, as well as by donations from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Catholic organizations.
The new San Carlos and San Ambrosio seminary, located about 30 miles outside of Havana, replaces a similar facility that was seized by the Communist government in 1966 — an event that exemplified strained relations with the Church over the past five decades.
The opening of the new seminary signifies another step in the improving relations between the Catholic Church and the state.
In remarks on Nov. 4, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said, “Today we write a new page in the history of Cuba. We write this page mindful of the many sacrifices that have brought us to this day. But we write this page with joy and hope because we write it in the bright light of the springtime of the new evangelization.”
The project was made possible, Anderson added, by Pope John Paul II, who blessed the cornerstone of the seminary during his 1998 apostolic visit to Cuba.
Supreme Secretary Emilio B. Moure, who joined the supreme knight in representing the Order at the dedication, was born in Cuba and came with his family to the United States in 1967 at age 11. He first met Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in 2002. The meeting grew into an acquaintance that eventually led to the Order becoming involved.
Notably, Cardinal Ortega was instrumental in the release of 52 political prisoners earlier this year, and in August, the Knights of Columbus bestowed its highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, on him in recognition of his lifetime of service to society and to the Church.
Also attending the dedication were Cuban President Raul Castro, the bishops of Cuba, and representatives of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church in the United States, Mexico, Italy and the Bahamas.
The Order founded its first council in Cuba in 1909 and in recent years has renewed activity there.