Sanborn was born in New York City. In 1967 he entered the seminary college for the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he majored in classical languages and graduated cum laude in 1971. That same year, unhappy with the church reforms being introduced in light of the Second Vatican Council, he entered Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's seminary in Ecône, Switzerland, becoming one of the first seminarians in the newly founded Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
Sanborn was ordained a priest by Archbishop Lefebvre on June 29, 1975. He returned to East Meadow, on New York's Long Island, to assist the Rev. Clarence Kelly. He taught at St. Pius V School on Long Island, and traveled to offer Mass in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.
In January 1977 Archbishop Lefebvre appointed Sanborn Rector of St. Joseph's House of Studies in Armada, Michigan, SSPX's first American seminary. In fall of that year, he was joined by the Rev. Anthony Cekada. The following year he acquired a church facility in Redford, Michigan, to serve Catholics in the Detroit metropolitan area.
From Armada, Fr. Sanborn conducted an extensive search throughout the United States for a new and larger seminary facility to accommodate the growing number of seminarians. In 1979, with the consent of Archbishop Lefebvre, he acquired a former Jesuit retreat house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, which was then renamed St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary and became the new home of the SSPX's U.S. seminary. He immediately made plans for the expansion of the Ridgefield facility, and launched a major fundraising program, which by 1982 allowed construction to begin on a new wing.
In April 1983 he was among nine priests expelled from SSPX because they objected to liturgical demands by Archbishop Lefebvre (among them the use of the 1962 Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII), as well as to other - in Sanborn's words - "disturbing leftward" trends in the Archbishop's organization. Archbishop Lefebvre demanded that SSPX priests cease to claim publicly that Pope John Paul II was not a legitimate Roman Pontiff, which some refused. Lefebvre also accepted into the SSPX priests ordained in the revised ordination rite of Pope Paul VI (in force since June 1968); the seceders - among them Daniel Dolan - claimed that, at best, such priests were only doubtfully priests. After their conflict with Lefebvre and his assistants, these nine priests and a few SSPX seminarians who joined them formed the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV) under the leadership of then-Fr. Clarence Kelly.
Within the SSPV too, differences arose over Fr. Kelly's rejection of the Thuc-lineage bishops as invalid, and Sanborn, Daniel Dolan, Cekada and others left, becoming independent priests.
After leaving the church in California, he returned to Michigan in 1986, acquiring a large school complex in Warren, a northeast suburb of Detroit. This became the home for the Mary Help of Christians Academy and the Saint Pius X Chapel, which was later renamed Queen of Martyrs Chapel and which in 1999 would acquire a large church in Fraser, another northeast suburb.
In 1991 he founded the Sacerdotium, a scholarly quarterly for sedevacantist priests, and also Catholic Restoration, a periodical for the sedevacantist laity. Both acquired a reputation for excellence in content and presentation among sedevacantists, despite their sometimes highly polemical content.
In 1995, with the encouragement of fellow sedevacantist and sedeprivationist Catholic priests, he founded the Most Holy Trinity Seminary.
On June 19, 2002, Sanborn was consecrated a bishop by Most Rev. Robert F. McKenna, O.P.. Sanborn is thereby a Thuc-lineage bishop, so some traditionalists dispute the validity of his episcopal consecration.
Bishop Sanborn's next project began in 2003, when the Most Holy Trinity Seminary acquired 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land near Brooksville, Florida, (about 30 minutes north of Tampa) with a view to constructing a new building and relocating its operations there. The Seminary will be designed in a Spanish Mission style. It will feature a large church with a Roman Classical interior and about 40 rooms opening onto an arched walkway around a central courtyard. Construction began in January 2005.
|Consecrated by:||Robert McKenna|
|Date of consecration:||June 19, 2002|