Diocese lends support to college

By Paul Paproski, OSB

MUENSTER, Sask. — St. Peter’s College has been offered financial support from the Diocese of Saskatoon. The diocese has agreed to help the college in its Grounded in Faith Program which is raising $3.5 million to pay off the final portion of the $16 million renovation debt. The diocese will support the college through funds raised by the deanery of Humboldt in the Bishops Annual Appeal, 50 representatives of the Humboldt deanery were told at a meeting Aug. 27, at St. Peter’s Abbey.

The Bishops Annual Appeal (BAA) plans to contribute $50,000 each year for five years from pledges in the Humboldt deanery. The total contributions from the deanery will be $250,000, Cathie Rogers of Saskatoon, BAA co-ordinator, said. The diocese will support the college on the condition that parish contributions in the Humboldt Deanery amount to at least 70 per cent of their diocesan assessments. Donations to the college will not affect traditional BAA programs, Rogers said, and parishes that exceed their assessed contributions will still receive their allotted returns.

Bishop Donald Bolen, urging support of the college, praised the Benedictines for their tradition of education and local community support. Kyla Brietta of Saskatoon, a second-year resident student at St. Peter’s College, said the college has been an excellent place for her to begin her university education.

“We have always gratefully relied on the generous support of members of the Humboldt deanery in our fundraising and our recent renovations are providing renewed community space for education, sports, health and wellness and of course spiritual retreat,” Rob Harasymchuk, president of St. Peter’s College, said in an interview. “So we are very thankful for the support of the Diocese of Saskatoon in pledging support for our facilities renewal through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Their commitment enables St. Peter’s to continue its mission in promoting our Catholic Benedictine tradition and delivering a first-rate university experience in the region,” he remarked.

Plans to renovate the college took root in 2003 when a $1.5 million fundraising program was launched to install a new sprinkling system for fire protection and renovate the college gymnasium. Further studies revealed that more extensive renovations were required to upgrade college facilities in order to meet changing education needs. Additional fundraising brought in another $1.5 million, doubling the amount raised to $3 million. Another $3 million was received from the province, and the federal government contributed $6 million, bringing the fundraising donations to $12 million.

Extensive renovations began in 2009 that affected every floor of Michael Hall, which was gutted, rebuilt and refurbished with new floors, walls, doors, lighting and windows. Doorway entrances were widened, bathrooms upgraded, and wiring brought to standard to enable information technology systems to be used.

There are three new science labs on the basement floor. Students can study and visit in a student lounge and recreation room and exercise in a modern fitness centre that is popular among students and staff. One of the most noticeable changes is the new elevator and shaft, a new addition to the west side of the building.

St. Peter’s College was founded in 1921 with the completion of Michael Hall (college building), named after Abbot Michael Ott. High school classes were offered that year. In 1926, the college became affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan in which liberal arts courses were offered.

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