When the Rev. Nicholas Gallagher became third bishop of Galveston in 1882, most Roman Catholic priests in the Diocese were natives of other states or countries. Realizing the need for a diocesan seminary to train young Texans for the priesthood, Bishop Gallagher founded St. Mary's Seminary School for Boys. The school opened in the fall of 1901 with 30 grammar school-age boys and 6 seminarians.Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986
St. Mary's Seminary was located at this site in La Porte's Sylvan Beach Hotel, once a majestic resort center, which had been heavily damaged in the 1900 hurricane. Over the years, increased enrollment necessitated the construction of additional facilities. Under the leadership of the Rev. James Kirwin, who served as president from 1911 until his death in 1926, St. Mary's became nationally known for its academic excellence. In 1926, the seminary was awarded university status, with the right to confer academic degrees. Many of its alumni, including more than 6 we became bishops, have served as prominent church leaders.
In 1954, the school relocated to Houston and eventually merged with St. Thomas University in that city. The chapel continues to serve the members of St. Mary's parish in La Porte.