After being closed to the public eye for more than a decade, St. Augustine’s Seminary will once again open its doors to the community on June 1. Photo by Evan Boudreau.

St. Augustine’s to open its doors to its neighbours

By 
  • May 23, 2014

TORONTO - The last time Fr. Peter Marr remembers St. Augustine’s Seminary opening its doors freely to the public he was deeply engrossed in studies there.

“We used to do The Doors Opened and a lot of people came then so I’m hoping the interest is still there,” said Marr, noting that was more than a decade ago. “People would come in the front door and they would say you know I’ve been driving by this building back and forth to work for years and years and years and I’ve always wondered what it was like inside. They were just fascinated to walk into a piece of history.”

On June 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. the seminary, overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto’s east end, will once again allow members of the public to wander the halls of the building where priests are formed.

Marr intends to have as many as 30 seminarians from both St. Augustine’s and Serra House, all of whom are studying to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Toronto, escort visitors around the property.

“The building itself is an architectural feature but in addition to that what we want to do with the Open House is (allow visitors) to see the seminarians themselves,” said Marr, the seminary’s vice- rector.

In addition to that Marr hopes to have someone available throughout the entire event to provide background information on the chapel, “because there is so much art and architecture in there.”

Last September St. Augustine’s Seminary marked its 100th anniversary and began a year of celebratory events with various partners. Among those are the deacons, the bishops and the Catholic schools.

This event will not only serve those who help fund the seminary through donations to ShareLife, the single largest contributor to the seminary, but also showcase the archdiocese’s fund-raising arm, as well as Catholic Charities.

“Since we just celebrated our 100th anniversary in the archdiocese last year... Catholic Charities thought this would also be an excellent opportunity to highlight our member agencies’ great work,” said executive director Michael Fullan. “The June 1 event will be an opportunity not only to meet and speak with representatives from some Catholic Charities member agencies but it will also be a rare opportunity for people to see the interior of this beautiful, historical seminary building.”

Fullan said he expects 18 of the 28 agencies Catholic Charities supports to be represented at the event, agencies such as Mary Centre, Rose of Durham and Catholic Crosscultural Services.

Marr said it is important to use milestone celebrations like this to highlight the broad work of the Church rather than just a building.

“We all love the Catholic Church but we all know it is not as big as some international organizations,” he said. “So what we’re doing is celebrating with different groups their relationship with the seminary in sharing the Gospel and in sharing faith.”

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