PHOTO | PRAIRIE MESSENGER
St. Angela's Convent and Academy in Prelate Sask. closed in 2007 when faced with declining enrollments and aging Ursuline membership.
SASKATOON — An Islamic boarding school for boys will open this fall in the former St. Angela's Convent and Academy at Prelate, Sask.
The newly created Islamic College of Saskatchewan took possession of the former convent and girls' boarding school Aug. 15 from the Ursulines of Prelate.
The buildings and grounds have been for sale since the Catholic girls' school closed in June 2007.
"We are pleased to have someone using it again," said Sister Anne Lewans, general superior of the congregation. "As well, our mission is 'educating for life' and this is certainly another form of that."
A grand opening for the Darul Uloom, or School of Knowledge, will be held Sept. 4, with students arriving within a few weeks, said director Mohammad Tayyab.
The new school will offer the approved Saskatchewan academic curriculum and Islamic religious studies to boys in Grades 4 to 12, with an eventual enrollment of about 100 students from across Canada, he said.
It will replace an Islamic school that operated in Hope, B.C., for several years, but which was short of space, Tayyab said.
Attendance will be open to young men from the local community, he added. "This school is specifically for Muslim boys, but if boys of any other religion want to come for the academic program only, they are welcome."
Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen expressed relief that the Ursuline Sisters have been able to find a buyer for their building and wouldn't be saddled with the expense and emotional challenge of taking the building down. He wished the new owners well.
"The Catholic Church has long fostered friendly relations with Muslims, encouraging working together to strengthen the common good whenever possible," Bolen said.
St. Angela's Academy opened in 1919 when three Ursuline sisters from Germany came to educate the children of German immigrants.
The school flourished and became widely known as a centre for Christian education for girls, with emphasis on the fine arts. With declining enrolments and an aging membership, the Ursulines closed the academy in 2007 and placed the buildings up for sale.
While rejoicing at the sale, the sisters are also experiencing some sadness in letting go of the building.
"It was our motherhouse and not just a school. That is where most of us lived and grew up," Lewans said. "We have had a lot of letting go to do."