Representatives of the diocese of Peterborough and Trent University sign the memorandum of understanding that they hope will help to establish a new Catholic college.

Peterborough diocese, Trent U. takes steps to establish Catholic college

By 
  • May 19, 2011

The diocese of Peterborough and Trent University have signed a memorandum of understanding to help further discussions and set guidelines in establishing the future Sacred Heart College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Peterborough.

"It's important that now after a couple of years of discussion with Trent that we've entered into an understanding whereby both the future Sacred Heart College and Trent University are going to co-operate on establishing a relationship that will allow us to grant credit for courses," said Fr. Joseph Devereaux, chancellor of the Peterborough diocese, of the future university college which will be located in the basement of Sacred Heart parish.

The memorandum says that the college and Trent agree to "work together to explore the potential for delivery of distinctive and complementary educational opportunities," such as transfer credit recognition and degree completion pathways.

But before it can be granted official status as a university college in Ontario, Sacred Heart College needs proper affiliations with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and recognition from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said Robin Lathangue, head of colleges at Trent University. And in order to meet the criteria for approvals, Sacred Heart College is working with the university toward offering degree credit courses this September.

The new courses will include Introduction to Old Testament Historical Literature and Christian Ethics in the Roman Catholic Tradition. A third possibility is a first-year Latin course which is yet to be announced.

"So it's the future Sacred Heart College with plans to become officially recognized within the next 12 to 15 months," said Lathangue.

The memorandum is building on the respective strengths of both institutions while preserving the unique identity of both of them, said Lathangue.

"The Catholic-Christian character of the college is a defining characteristic of the college and Trent University is a secular university. So with those two things in mind... we have to build an agreement and an understanding and a program that's going to respect those unique identities."

Signed on April 29, "The signing of the memorandum of understanding is an historic event in the life of our beloved city of Peterborough, the diocese and for members of all the various Christian communities," Bishop Nicola de Angelis wrote in the Catholic Herald, the diocese of Peterborough's newsletter.

To date, more than $2 million has been raised to fund the college, said Lathangue. The money has all come from people who were interested and believed in the project, said Devereaux.

Plans to start a Catholic college at Trent started in 2006 when de Angelis was visiting the Vatican for a meeting with the Holy Father. He presented Pope Benedict XVI with a poster of a large number of young people from the annual SONFest, a diocesan event based on the World Youth Day model. When the Pope asked de Angelis if the young people in the diocese had an opportunity to attend a Catholic college or university in Peterborough, and heard there wasn't, he encouraged the bishop to start one.

A letter from the Vatican confirming knowledge of the signing of the memorandum of understanding said, "His Holiness prays that this collaborative effort between the local Catholic Church and Trent University will produce rich rewards in faith and academic excellence." It also said that "the Holy Father willingly imparts to the students, faculty and benefactors his apostolic blessing."

The eventual goal is to make Sacred Heart an autonomous college within Trent University, said Lathangue.

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