Who we are

Nurturing Minds, Shaping Hearts for the Priesthood

Brief History of SJMS

Since the time of its inception in 1976, St. Joseph Major Seminary was a Philosophy Campus of Bigard Memorial Seminary, the Mother Seminary was becoming congested in the early 1970s and to make for a smooth running of the system and quality formation of priest for the erstwhile Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, there was the need to decongest the Mother Seminary. Accordingly, a Philosophy Campus was opened in Ikot-Ekpene with the name “Bigard Memorial Seminary” and affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University, Rome in 1978. The Seminary Existed as a Philosophy Campus until 1987 when the department of Sacred Theology was opened and the first set of theology students admitted in the 1989/1990 Academic year. Consequently, the Bishop of the erstwhile Onitsha Province wisely decided to change the name to St. Joseph Major Seminary, to reflect its new Status. This took effect on the 1st of March, 1991.

To give a concrete account of itself as an academic institution, the department of Philosophy of Saint Joseph Major Seminary went into a relationship of affiliation with the formal University of Cross Rivers State, Uyo on August 22, 1990. Later development in the university necessitated a modification of the agreement made and it was adopted by both Seminary and the University of Uyo on January 30, 1992. Worthy of note, inter alia, is article 4 of the agreement which stipulates that the Seminary is to retain its autonomy, religious character, as well as its academic and religious connections to Rome.

However, fresh development in her Academic History as seen the Seminary through another affiliation with the University of Calabar, Cross River State. This new development has been necessitated by Seminary’s penchant for efficiency and smoothness in running the academic programme and these are feasible benefits of the new relationship with the University of Calabar. Thus, at the end of the 2013/2014 academic year, her affiliation with the University of Calabar ceased to be.

St. Joseph Major Seminary runs two departments, namely, the department of Philosophy and Theology. Each of the two departments offers a four-year programme leading to a Bachelors Degree, coupled with other vital aspects of formation of candidates for the Catholic Priesthood.

Academic Affiliations and Autonomy

The seminary's academic endeavors took a significant step forward with affiliations to the former University of Cross River State, Uyo, and later with the University of Calabar, Cross River State. Despite these affiliations, St. Joseph Major Seminary retained its autonomy, religious character, and academic connections to Rome. The commitment to efficiency and academic excellence led to the transition to the University of Calabar at the end of the 2013/2014 academic year.


At St. Joseph Major Seminary, we operate two departments: the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Theology. Each department offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor's Degree, complemented by essential aspects of formation for candidates pursuing the Catholic Priesthood.

Formation for Leadership and Holiness

Our mission extends beyond academic excellence. The seminary's eight-year formation program nurtures a blend of faith and reason, fostering the inner growth of young men seeking holiness and wholeness. The ultimate goal is to shape leaders who, as "alter Christus," act in "Persona Christi" in the ministry of the word and sacraments.