New Regis College aims to anticipate God's glory

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  • September 8, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - The new Regis College won’t be finished when theology students arrive for academic orientation Sept. 10, and even when construction wraps up before the end of September the academic home of the Jesuits won’t really be finished. However, Regis Dean Fr. Gordon Rixon couldn’t be happier.

Weaving among the trucks in the driveway as he emerges from the dust and occasional thump of construction crews, Rixon is as calm and contented as a monk in a garden.

There may be small inconveniences as classes get started and construction and clean up crews work among the students, but Rixon mostly marvels at how faculty, students and staff have embraced the move from the old brick block off Yonge Street that’s been the college’s home since 1976.

The Jesuits think of their graduate school of theology as their contribution to the church in Toronto and Canada and its mission to evangelize the culture, said Rixon.

“We live in a very secular society, and I think it’s really important that the Catholic Church, Christian churches and other faiths really give a witness to that light of faith, because it adds a dimension to human living that is vital,” said Rixon.

The $6-million renovation now underway at the old Christie Mansion, just behind Queen’s Park, is really just the first of a two- or three-phase recreation of the building, said architect Roberto Chiotti . The Larkin Architect Ltd. partner has designed a new entrance to the building off Wellesley Street West. This new glass wall will be the face of the college.

The idea is to help the Jesuits “find their new identity on campus,” said Chiotti.

The explicit sign of that identity isn’t part of phase one. When the Jesuits get the money, phase two will include three stained-glass windows over the new entrance depicting the light of reason, the light of faith and the light of glory.

Even without the dreamed-of stained glass, the merging of faith and reason in the ultimate context of glory is what a Jesuit understanding of theology is all about, said Rixon.

“It’s the eschatological viewpoint,” he said. “You understand the fullness of the relationship between the love of faith and the truth of reason in the perspective of an anticipation of the fullness of God’s glory.”

The exciting thing about taking over the former Sisters of St. Joseph offices and residence is how it moves the theology school from the edge of the campus into the heart of the University of Toronto, said Rixon.

“There will be a lantern of faith facing the university that is clearly also grounded in the light of reason,” he said. “We respect that. We welcome it. But we also want to be a lantern of faith to the university.”

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