The Edmonton archdiocese has a new state-of-the-art college in Newman Theological College, pictured, and St. Joseph’s Seminary. It was trying for the two schools while construction was being completed, but it was worth the aggravation. Photo courtesy of the archdiocese of Edmonton

New homes for Edmonton's Newman Theological College and St. Joseph’s Seminary

By 
  • February 3, 2012

The Newman Theological College and St. Joseph’s Seminary communities in Edmonton are glad to be back in the same fold.

To make way for the Anthony Henday Highway, the college and seminary were forced to uproot and build a new home. They have since moved to new state-of-the-art facilities on the Pastoral Centre grounds, the seminary moving into its new home in August 2010, while classes at the college started in January 2011.

“And it’s very good to be back together again,” said Fr. Shayne Craig, rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary and president of Newman Theological College.

“We had a bit over a year in which the college was in a temporary location, the seminary was in a temporary location and the year before that we were in the process of dismantling everything so we had a couple years of instability… It’s nice to be settled and to be laying roots again,” said Craig.

And the new location is very beautiful, said Craig.

“It’s right in the heart of the city near the heart of the diocese — the pastoral centre. It’s very good,” he said.

“We have a huge property we now call the Catholic campus with the diocesan, pastoral and administration offices, with the priest retirement home, with a facility called the Primrose which is a gymnasium… So it’s a very large, beautiful greenbelt.”

There’s also a nearby school and park.

“It’s much more beautiful than sitting beside a megahighway.”

The move took place as the college and seminary were the only two institutions in the way of the new roadway.

“We would have had a six-lane highway right outside of our front door,” said Craig.

Still, it was a painful decision to uproot from its former home, said Craig, who has been a part of the seminary for more than 25 years.

“There were a lot of memories and a lot of connections” from the old location.

But in the long run, leaving behind many aspects of the old buildings was a blessing, he said.

“The boiler system was held together by a Band-Aid and a prayer… And we had a field there that gave us various problems. We were just outside the service area, basically all alone in the middle of nothing so whenever there was a problem, it was complicated.”

Now, the college and seminary are closer to more parishes and more connected to the Catholic population, he said, while the new buildings are “very modern, very bright, very cheerful” with LEED ecological certification.

“So, for example, when you walk into an office, the lights turn on automatically. If you leave and you forgot to shut off the lights, they turn off automatically.”

The whole project cost $57 million, which includes the building of the college, the building of the seminary, moving costs and temporary location costs, said Craig.

“We received $42 million from the provincial government when we had our accord with them for the move. And the rest we raised through the generosity of the Catholic people.”

The move was very demanding upon people, but everybody pulled together with a great spirit, he said.

“We’ve had a very positive and generous response,” he said. “It’s been a real boost in the arm for the professors and the staff at the college to see how supported they are and how important the seminary and the college are to the mission of the Church here.”

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