WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
St. Joseph Seminary will be blessed on Monday May 2.
EDMONTON - The upcoming blessing of St. Joseph Seminary "is a hugely important historical moment for the whole archdiocese," says Archbishop Richard Smith.
"We've had a seminary since the early 1900s and together with Newman College since the late 1960s it has been a very important institution for the diocese and the people have grown to love it and appreciate it deeply."
However, due to lack of space, only those invited will be able to attend the blessing and dedication of the seminary May 2.
The bishops of Western Canada, priests of the Edmonton Archdiocese and numerous people instrumental in building the seminary and college are on the guest list.
"The seminary chapel only holds about 200 to 250 people; that's why we had to restrict it to an invitation-only basis," lamented the archbishop.
Established in 1927 to train priests for the Edmonton Archdiocese, St. Joseph Seminary is now the seminary of choice for Western Canadian dioceses.
This year, there are close to 30 seminarians from across Western Canada studying at the institution, located just a few metres south of Newman Theological College.
Since the seminary opened its doors, hundreds of men who have studied at St. Joseph have been ordained priests; while many others went on to serve the Church in other ministries.
The seminary and college were relocated to the Catholic Pastoral Centre grounds after the old buildings on Mark Messier Trail were bought by the provincial government and then demolished to make way for the Anthony Henday Drive.
Despite initial concerns, the move ended up being a blessing.
The seminary and college acquired state-of-the-art buildings for a little more than it would have cost to repair the old structures, which were in poor condition and needed millions of dollars in repairs.
"In spite of the changes that were imposed upon us by the ring road, we've got the opportunity to continue the missions of the institutions and to do so in brand new buildings," Smith said.
"So in that sense it is a wonderful moment in history for us as we see these institutions continue their missions in new and beautiful settings."
The archbishop described the blessing of the seminary as "a formal dedication, which means it is being set apart in a solemn fashion and in the context of prayer and worship for the service of God."
The particular service that the seminary renders is the formation of men to serve the people of God as their priests.
"But like any aspect of the Church's mission we cannot do what we are called to do apart from the help of God, apart from his grace.
"So by dedicating the seminary and blessing it we are in a sense offering it to God and asking for his blessing, asking for his grace, that we can accomplish that which he calls us to do," the archbishop said.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to evangelize. We look for every opportunity today to announce the truth and the beauty of Jesus to the world and this seminary and the college building with it, because of their beauty, is enabling us to announce in the beauty of architecture the beauty of the Gospel."
All the Alberta bishops, including Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, are among the 16 bishops expected to attend the blessing. Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the apostolic nuncio to Canada, and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach will also attend.