WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
With the bishops of Western Canada and priests of the archdiocese, Archbishop Richard Smith blesses the chapel of St. Joseph's Seminary May 2.
EDMONTON — Under sunny skies and surrounded by bishops, priests, deacons and lay people, Archbishop Richard Smith prayed that St. Joseph Seminary may be a “school of prayer and a centre of divine teaching.”
The blessing of the new seminary May 2 was the culmination of years of working toward the fulfillment of a dream – the move of the seminary and Newman Theological College to the grounds of the Catholic Pastoral Centre in central Edmonton.
The archbishop prayed: “Watch over, O Lord, your Church in Edmonton and Western Canada which has built this new seminary dedicated to St. Joseph to ensure that the future ministers of Christ, gathered in common life and the study of your holy teaching, will be rightly formed for so great a service.”
Then, followed by his assistants, Smith moved through the seminary buildings sprinkling holy water. The assembly stayed in the courtyard praising God in song.
More than 200 people, including bishops from across Western Canada, diocesan priests and deacons and several dozen especially selected lay people, attended the event. Premier Ed Stelmach was among those present.
Seminarians have been in residence at St. Joseph’s since September and classes held at Newman College since January. But the incomplete state of construction in the fall forced the delay of the formal blessing until now.
Earlier, Smith presided over a Mass dedicating the seminary chapel.
“(Lord,) may this building, which we dedicate to your name, be a house of salvation and grace where Christians gathered in fellowship may worship you in spirit and truth and grow together in love,” he said.
He then anointed the altar and the walls of the building, saying, “May God in his power make them holy, visible signs of the mystery of Christ and his Church.”
During his homily, the archbishop praised the seminary, saying it has long been an essential part of the fabric of the Church in Western Canada and other dioceses across Canada.
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Archbishops Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface, Sylvain Lavoie of Keewatin-Le Pas, Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon, Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg and Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver were among the bishops at the May 2 seminary blessing.
“Together with Newman Theological College, the seminary occupies a special place in the hearts of our people,” he said.
“We are grateful to God for the gift of new buildings in which the vital missions of the seminary and college will now continue.”
Bishops attending the blessing were impressed with the new seminary.
“This is a magnificent, most imposing building and it looks like it’s very adapted to what it’s proposed to do — to be a place for prayer and the teaching of seminarians,” said Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.
“It’s really fit for a seminary. It’s contemporary but also has a feel, particularly through the artwork and so on, of tradition. It’s a very happy combination.”
The Vancouver Archdiocese doesn’t routinely send seminarians to St. Joseph’s as it uses the services of Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C.
“But I’m glad there is a good seminary like this in Western Canada,” Miller said, noting that in the 1970s his archdiocese did send some men to be formed at St. Joseph’s.
“It’s beautiful; the worship space is simple but invites mind and heart to turn to God,” said Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon.
“The light shines beautifully, the statues and all the European art are very fine. The chapel makes it easy to pray and to lift our thoughts to God.”
Bolen said he will continue sending men for formation at St. Joseph’s. “I have a lot of confidence and trust in this seminary. It’s a good place of formation.”
Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface will also continue sending seminarians to St. Joseph’s.
“Absolutely!” he said. “This is the seminary for Western Canada. In fact, this fall we have two more (seminarians) coming here.” Currently there is one seminarian from St. Boniface at St. Joseph’s.
Standing in one of the seminary hallways, LeGatt exclaimed, “This is a beautiful setting. It leads to prayer and to reflection. And the chapel itself combines the traditional and the modern in a way that lifts up the soul.”
Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie of Keewatin-Le Pas described the new seminary as a “beautiful building, which combines tradition and modernity and is conducive to prayer and study.”
Lavoie’s archdiocese had one seminarian at St. Joseph’s about three years ago “but we don’t have any seminarians to send right now,” Lavoie said.