Holy Spirit Seminary is moving from Ottawa to Edmonton this summer, bringing with it the future leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic community.
As the major seminary of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, it will become the city’s second centre of formation for priests. St. Joseph Seminary is currently the only major seminary west of Ontario, serving the Roman Catholic dioceses of the four western provinces. The Ukrainian Catholic students will join their Roman Catholic brothers for academic studies at Newman Theological College.
The Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of Canada cited academic and financial reasons in their decision to relocate Holy Spirit Seminary, which currently houses six seminarians.
“I’m just elated that Edmonton and the community here are able to welcome the seminary,” said Bishop David Motiuk of the Edmonton Eparchy.
The eparchy has 24 parishes across Alberta, including nine in Edmonton.
An official date has not been announced, but the seminary is expected to relocate in time for the 2018-19 academic year.
The Ukrainian Catholic bishops first considered moving their 38-year-old seminary in 2016.
The Holy Spirit building needed costly repairs, and the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute – which provides the seminary’s Eastern theology courses – announced it was moving from Ottawa to Toronto.
They looked at more than 50 potential sites in Toronto, but couldn’t find a property that met the seminary’s needs at a feasible price. Leasing space in the former Basilian House of Studies building in northwest Edmonton proved to be the best option.
“We will do our best to support the seminary and the seminarians, and they’ll be the light of Christ for the local community here,” said Motiuk, himself a former rector of Holy Spirit Seminary.
Costs of maintaining the seminary in Ottawa were a major factor, especially in light of declining parish memberships and diminishing church finances.
“The bishops are trying to be the best stewards that they can be, given resources and possibilities,” said Father Michael Winn, the rector of Holy Spirit Seminary.
“I think the seminarians are looking forward to Edmonton. I mean, it’s a beautiful city, and it’s also a vibrant Ukrainian Catholic community.”
Holy Spirit seminarians will attend the Master of Divinity program at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, which will also provide Eastern Christian theology courses. They will also have an opportunity to take online courses through the Sheptytsky Institute.
Jason West, the college president, is looking forward to welcoming the Holy Spirit seminarians.
“I think it’s good for us in the Roman Catholic tradition to also have that opportunity to be exposed to other parts of the broader Catholic Church and the Eastern traditions,” he said.