After a celebratory Mass, Cardinal Thomas Collins blesses the new Ryerson Catholic Student Centre, located at 200 Church St. in Toronto. The front facade of the centre is shown on the left. Left photo by Augustine Ng. Right photo courtesy of Daniel Agbuis

Ryerson Catholics celebrate blessing of new student centre

By  Augustine Ng, Youth Speak News
  • February 13, 2015

What used to be a house in the heart of downtown Toronto is now a new home for Catholic students seeking a place to study and relax.

The Ryerson Catholic Students Association officially opened the doors to its new student centre Feb. 6.

The celebration began with a Mass with Cardinal Thomas Collins at St. John’s Chapel at 4 p.m., followed by the house blessing.

“Basically it’s a space for us to build community, have fellowship and run different programs,” said Oriana Bertucci, director of the Catholic chaplaincy at Ryerson University. “Students can come in, in between classes or when they have a break. They are all welcome to visit.”

The cozy three-storey house is located on 200 Church St., near St. John’s Chapel and just behind St. Michael’s Cathedral. Formerly known as the Hogan House, the building was the childhood home of Fr. Seamus Hogan.
Renovations to  the student centre finished in October and it now includes an office, a kitchenette and a spacious lounge space.

The reception and open house began at 5 p.m. and was attended by all who were involved in the student centre’s renovations, from project managers and architects to Ryerson students and other members of the St. Michael’s Cathedral community.

Several groups took tours through the rooms of the student centre, while others began to settle in. Before the student centre opened Ryerson Catholic students had no defined space to gather.

“For big gatherings we used to have to go to the parish hall and for smaller gatherings we would end up stuck in places that were crowded and noisy,” said Micah Sinasac, a fifth-year Aerospace Engineering student at Ryerson. “Having a place like this where it’s actually quiet and you can focus is awesome. Plus, it’s another place you can study.”

Because of the university’s fast-growing population, many students find it hard to find space to settle in between classes.

“It’s almost impossible to find space, especially during exam time,” said Siu-Chong, a third-year Hospitality and Tourism student. “If you go to the library you’ll end up sitting on the floor.”

“It’s nice to finally have a space where students can get together and actually feel a sense of comfort and community,” said Allison Belen, a third-year Social Work student. “More than anything, it gives us a place of community where earlier we hadn’t had one at all.”

The building is also eco-friendly, Belen adds. A ll the lights have motion sensors and will shut off if no one is in the room.

The centre, which is a short walk south of the Ryerson campus, will be used for regular events during the week, such as praise and worship sessions, rosary, movie nights and men and women nights to name a few. Students can also drop in anytime from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

(Ng, 17, is a first-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

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