Basilians are Jesuits without the attitude

By Jacquie Berg

SASKATOON — The first lecture of the St. Thomas More College Leslie and Irene Dubé Chair for Catholic Studies lecture series involved a look at Basilians — as seen in both a historical and sociological context.

The lecture, entitled, The Basilians: Jesuits Without the Attitude, was held Sept. 25 at the Catholic college on the University of Saskatchewan campus.

Speaking as a historian, Dr. Michael Hayden discussed the origins of the Congregation of St. Basil in reaction to the French Revolution, its slow growth, and its problems dealing with the French government throughout the 19th century.

Rev. Ron Griffin, CSB, a sociologist and STM’s last Basilian on site, identified the reasons why the history and recruitment pattern of the Basilians was so different from those of five other male religious congregations which were founded in France during the same time period.

Discussion also included information about the Basilians’ arrival in Canada and the conflict that developed between the French and Canadian branches of the congregation and the transformation of the Congregation of St. Basil in Canada from a group of conservative, French, anti-modern-world seminary teachers into a body of English-speaking, well-educated high school and university teachers and parish priests.

The lecture concluded with discussion of what transpired with Basilians from the 1970s to the present in the context of the experiences of other Catholic religious orders and congregations. The floor was then opened to questions and comments, including an assessment of the Basilians’ impact on past, present and future University of Saskatchewan students.

Following the public lecture, a statue honouring the legacy of the order at STM was unveiled in the college atrium, which is to be renamed St. Basil’s Atrium (see related article).

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