Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2003
Oblates close local formation house
Order seeks cultural diversity in Ottawa
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
After 31 years of presence in the Archdiocese of Edmonton, the Oblates’ St. Charles Scholasticate in St. Albert will move to Ottawa at the end of July.
The move was decided after the order saw the need to expose their seminarians to a wider cultural diversity, which they say St. Paul University in Ottawa can provide better than Newman College.
“One of the things that we looked that we want for our men was to learn more languages. We want them to be exposed to various cultures,” Oblate Father Doug Jeffrey told the WCR.
“We want to be attentive to the cultural roots of different people and their faith life,” said Jeffrey, the superior at the scholasticate.
Newman is a wonderful facility but the students are predominantly English speaking, he explained.
“In Ottawa there is a possibility of exposure to both of the official languages of Canada. Then there are also students from around the world. Ottawa is a little bit more of a hub than Edmonton in terms of cultural diversity.”
Another important factor in the decision was the order’s desire to consolidate its programs and its two Canadian formation houses.
It was thought that Ottawa was a good place to consolidate because of St. Paul University.
There are also a number of Oblates who come to St. Paul from around the world that provide a very good program in missiology.
In his homily at the Thanksgiving Mass held at Newman College, May 6, Jeffrey said, “For the Oblates and for many of you this move to Ottawa is producing a variety of sentiments,” Oblate Father Doug Jeffrey, told close to 80 people who attended the thanksgiving Mass in the Newman College chapel, May 6.
“I have heard Oblates and others share their memories of what the scholasticate has meant to them – what the Oblates have meant to them.”
The Oblates scholasticate, which is the formation house for their seminarians, was moved to Edmonton from Battleford, Sask. in 1972. Scholastics and priests first stayed at the old St. Joseph Seminary.
Some eight years later, when Newman College needed to expand, the Oblates moved to St. Albert, where they found a series of four units of houses on Gareth Place.
Jeffrey, who is also the provincial superior of Oblates’ St. Mary Province, noted that he heard different sentiments about this move.
“In the hearing and in the expression of these sentiments, it is important that we recall who the Oblates are and what the Church needs of us.”
He emphasized, “We are religious and we are a missionary community and we must be about living our charism in the Church. The universal Church is not served well when we lose our edge.”
Jeffrey stressed that the Oblates have played a key role in the Church of Western Canada which made it difficult to decide whether to move.
He believes that their scholastics are getting good theological formation at Newman College. “I think it is important to acknowledge that good theological reflection is being done here.”
As the scholasticate pulls out from Edmonton, only one Oblate professor – Father Martin Moser -- will remain at Newman.
Oblate Father Paul Fachet, who came to Edmonton when the scholasticate was moved in 1972, has been assigned to be a resource person at Queen’s House Renewal Centre in Saskatoon.
Fachet taught Scriptures and world religions at Newman.
“I’m going to miss the people. I made some very good friends here and I love teaching. I’ll probably miss teaching,” Fachet told the WCR.
Although he will have a chance to teach in Saskatoon, it will not be as intense and in depth compared to what he did at the college. In Saskatoon, he will give retreats, conferences and spiritual direction.
He may even begin a program for the formation of spiritual directors and possibly he will be involved in the lay formation program.
As he leaves Edmonton, he imparts “blessings on the people here.”
“I know I’ve been touched deeply by many of the people here in Edmonton. I’ve been blessed and I hope that they too will continue to grow in the love of God and his word.”
Pawel Ratajczak, a scholastic, who will move to Ottawa, shares those words of thanks and blessing.
“I’ll bring many memories. The first memory is the warmth of the West, the vibrancy of the Church here. I say this not because I wanted to sound nice but because this is truly and honestly what I will experienced.
“I’ll take with me the friendships that I made here at Newman -- with seminarians, lay people, the wonderful professors, and all the kind and caring people I met.”
He is both excited and scared about moving to Ottawa.
“It’s a big university. It will bring new opportunities to meet other people and other Oblates from other countries who will be joining us. That is something to look forward to,” said Ratajczak, who spent three and a half years in Edmonton.