OTTAWA (CCN) — The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies is moving from Ottawa to University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.
Though the move from Saint Paul University, home to the Sheptytsky Institute since 1992, has been in the works for five years, the official announcement of the move came on Sept. 28 in a speech at St. Michael’s by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church based in Kyiv.
“This is one of the leading academic centres of the world, and in welcoming the Sheptytsky Institute you make it possible for the Institute to complete its mission of furthering the intellectual life of the church of Kyiv,” Shevchuk said. “At the same time, you also make it possible for the Institute to offer other Eastern churches, Orthodox, Pre-Chalcedonian, and Catholic, the chance to study, with pastoral solicitude and academic rigour, all that our ancestors in the faith have left us.”
“They have given us a living legacy, a legacy that we believe can bring healing and hope to a world increasingly polarized, fundamentalized, radicalized and set against ‘the other,’ ’’ he said. “We can only do this by not only talking about how Eastern and Western Christianity need and complete each other, but by actually living this.”
“I’m overjoyed,” said the Institute’s acting director Rev. Peter Galadza in an interview. “We will now be in Canada’s premier university and at a Catholic college that is firmly committed to its Catholic identity.”
“We were blessed with their presence and we are sorry to see them go,” said Saint Paul University’s dean of the faculty of theology Rev. Ivan Mathieu.
“We will keep and maintain and hopefully expand our ECS (Eastern Christian Studies) program,” Mathieu said. “That doesn’t mean Ukrainians will stop being welcome and continue to attend Saint Paul University. As a matter of fact, I think the Holy Spirit Seminary will remain in Ottawa next year.”
Saint Paul University recently announced it will offer a Master in Theological Studies in Eastern Christian Studies (M.T.S.-E.C.S.) in addition to its other degree programs.
Students at the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Holy Spirit seminary attend Saint Paul University for their academic formation. Whether the seminary will also move is a decision the Ukrainian Catholic eparchs will make.
“We’re committed to maintaining a partnership with the faculty of theology at Saint Paul University,” said Galadza. Though initial talks began five years ago with St. Mike’s, “things really only began to gel when David Mulroney took over as president of St. Michael’s College last July.”
“Working with President Mulroney and Dean James Ginther of the faculty of theology at St. Mikes during this past year has been a singular joy,” Galadza said. “Their professionalism and commitment to solid higher education is exceptional.”
Galadza estimated that “in general there are 40 times more eastern Catholic Christians” in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). “I very much look forward to moving to Toronto.”
The Institute will also be taking its library for about 5,000 volumes, but Galadza pointed out Saint Paul University has “10 times” that number in “in the area of Eastern Christian studies that they themselves have been collecting.”
Mathieu pointed out Saint Paul University has one of the best libraries on Eastern Christian Studies in the world. “It was enriched by that library that was given to us by the Sheptytsky Institute.”
At the same time, he stressed: “Our library at Saint Paul University is one of the five best in North America, with no distinction between east and west.”
“All the ECS programs belong to the faculty of Saint Paul University and will remain and will flourish because we are in contact with many other Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox,” said Mathieu. “This was done in collaboration with the people of the Sheptytksy institute.”
He noted Saint Paul University has an “ambassador for the faculty, Father Maxym Lysack,” an Orthodox priest “who is in contact with all the Orthodox churches present in Ottawa.”
St. Mike’s has offered the Institute one of its six 19th-century Victorian mansions, Windle House “rent free” and with “free upkeep as long as our memorandum of understanding lasts,” said Galadza. The building has almost 30 rooms. In addition, the university is offering separate space for a chapel.
Galadza said welcome by the University of Toronto community is “indicative of a general trend in Eastern Christian studies.”
“Universities like Fordham University, University of Notre Dame, Loyola Marymount in California are just some of the universities where Eastern Christian Studies is being significantly expanded,” he said.
Galadza cites two reasons for this trend: the “discovery of the riches of Eastern Christianity by contemporary scholars; and demographics — many immigrant communities are “coming into their own” while “being supplemented by recent immigration from the former USSR, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”
The move is expected to be completed in July 2017.