The University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto (USMC) has come to an agreement with the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation (MASIF) about the relocation of the Sheptytsky Institute from Ottawa to Toronto, as an autonomous academic unit within the Faculty of Theology. The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (MASI) was founded by Fr. Andriy Chirovsky in 1986 at Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school of ministry in Chicago. In 1990, at the request of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of Canada, this institute relocated to Ottawa’s Saint Paul University, where it developed programs in Eastern Christian Studies from the undergraduate Certificate through the Bachelor’s, Master’s Licentiate and Doctoral levels. The Institute also publishes a peer-reviewed journal, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, as well as books and audio-visual materials. It is supported by the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation and operates under the moral and financial aegis of the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy of Canada.
Conversations about relocation to Toronto began in January, 2011, and accelerated after the arrival of St. Michael’s new president, David Mulroney (former Canadian Ambassador to China) in July 2015, and Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Dr. James Ginther in August 2015. A negotiating team was struck, composed of Institute Founder, Fr. Andriy Chirovsky (Peter and Doris Kule Chair of Eastern Christian Theology and Spirituality), Acting Director, Fr. Peter Galadza (Kule Family Chair of Eastern Christian Liturgy) and Mr. Paul Grod, Member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation. This negotiation team worked feverishly on the myriad of details involved in relocating the Institute from one university to another. The Memorandum of Agreement between the MASIF and USMC was approved by MASIF’s Board on June 19, 2016, and by the Collegium (Board of Directors) of USMC on June 21, 2016. The signing itself took place during a banquet held at USMC’s Canada Room on Wednesday, June 28, 2016.
The over 200 assembled guests greeted the entrance of His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church and His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto and Chancellor of USMC as a Polychronion (Mnohaya lita) was sung by members of the Sheptytsky Institute Choir under the direction of Uwe Lieflander. After a welcome by the Mistress of Ceremonies, MASIF Board Member and Toronto tele-journalist Faith Goldy, the Opening Prayer and Blessing was offered by Cardinal Collins. A toast was then offered by Paul Grod of MASIF, who is also president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The Head Table guests were introduced by MASI Acting Director, Fr. Peter Galadza. Among the honored guests was Ukiraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko.
The Sheptytsky Institute Choir sang two pieces, Прийдіте воспоєм, людіє – Come, People, Let us Hymn the Saviour’s Resurrection, Concert No. 15, by Dmytro Bortniansky (+1825) conducted by Uwe Lieflander, and Megalynarion for the Feast of the Holy Cross, Lviv 1904 Irmolohion, arranged by and conducted by Guest Conductor Roman Hurko.
MASI Founder, Fr. Andriy Chirovsky, introduced the President and Vice-Chancellor of USMC, David Mulroney, and gave a bit of the history of how the relationship developed. “In welcoming the Sheptytsky Institute we benefit as a University,” said David Mulroney, USMC President and Vice-Chancellor. “We are allowed to share in a rich history, we gain privileged access to the Institute’s library, its publication tradition; and we welcome new scholars and excellent teachers into our midst. But more than that, we are enriched as a community.”
The agreement was then signed by David Mulroney on behalf of USMC and Andrew Hladyshevsky on behalf of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation. They were flanked by VIP’s from the head table, including Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Most Rev. Bryan Bayda, CSSR, Eparch of Saskatoon and Liaison Bishop of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Hierarchy of Canada to the MASI Foundation; and the Most Rev. Stephen Chmilar, Eparch of Toronto, as well as Bishop Andriy Peshko of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, Bishop Ioan-Casian Tunaru of the Romanian Orthodox Church, MASI Founder Fr. Andriy Chirovsky and MASI Acting Director Fr. Peter Galadza, MASIF Board member and negotiating team member Paul Grod, Dean James Ginther of the USMC Faculty of Theology, its former Dean Fr. Mario D’Souza, and USMC Chief Administrative Officer Effie Slapcinar.
Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk offered remarks and expressed his gratitude to all those who had made this momentous event happen. He emphasized that the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, as the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, has a responsibility to help other Eastern Christian Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, to be able to tell their stories and develop their intellectual traditions within the University of Toronto community and beyond through the Sheptytsky Institute.
Mnohaya lita (“God grant you many years – Ad multos annos!”), composed by Dmytro Bortniansky (+1825) was then sung by Members of the Sheptytsky Institute Choir under the Direction of Uwe Lieflander. The Most Rev. Stephen Chmilar, Eparch of Toronto, offered the concluding prayer.
The Sheptytsky Institute will relocate to St. Michael’s on July 1, 2017, and its course offerings will begin that September. It is foreseen that Eastern Christian Studies streams will be offered at the professional degree level, with Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) degrees, as well as the advanced research degree level, with the Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.) and Ph.D.
MASI will officially be referenced as “The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies in the Faculty of Theology, University of St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto”.
The Faculty of Theology of USMC is a member of the Toronto School of Theology (TST), a consortium of seven Anglican, Presbyterian, United Church and Catholic theological schools, which offer a rich variety of course offerings, as well as faculty and library resources, all on the St. George (downtown Toronto) campus of the University of Toronto. TST is federated with the University of Toronto. USMC is also a federated college of that University, which is one of the more complex institutions in the academic world, and also quite renowned, consistently ranking in the top 15 universities of the world. St. Michael’s is also a university in its own right, possessing a charter to grant degrees. That is why it is named the University of St. Michael’s College. Founded in 1852, it has been federated with the University of Toronto since 1910.
“This third re-founding of the Sheptytsky Institute is not just some lateral move. It is rather a quantum leap up and forward for us,” explains Institute founder, Fr. Andriy Chirovsky. “An incredibly diverse city, Toronto is home to communities of virtually all of the Eastern Christian Churches: Orthodox, Pre-Chalcedonian and Eastern Catholic. In addition to serving the needs of the Church of Kyiv, both Catholic and Orthodox, the Institute is committed to bring the voices of all Eastern Christian Churches to bear on the intellectual life of the University of Toronto and far beyond. As the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, we need to exercise leadership in this regard.”
Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk has repeatedly remarked: “In Ukraine we have the Ukrainian Catholic University, but in North America, we have the Sheptytsky Institue. Support this Institute. I look forward to sending students from Ukraine to the Institute, now moving to Toronto, to earn advanced degrees in Theology and return to Ukraine to offer leadership to our Church there and throughout the world.” Those sentiments were repeated during the banquet.
At USMC, the Sheptytsky Institute will have exclusive use of Windle House, an impressive 1897 Victorian mansion at the very heart of the campus, as well as a permanent properly furnished Byzantine chapel, to be established in nearby Elmsley Hall. USMC President David Mulroney has said that he welcomes the Sheptytsky Institute as an addition to the founding communities of USMC: the Basilian Fathers (C.S.B.), the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Loretto Sisters. Of all of the colleges of the University of Toronto, Ukrainian students have traditionally favored St. Mike’s as their matriculation point.
Theology Dean James Ginther is excited about the possibilities that the arrival of the Sheptytsky Institute will offer students of USMC as well as other theological schools of the TST. Theology courses that are team-taught and include both Eastern and Western perspectives are being planned. There will be no two solitudes here. This gives students a real opportunity to understand the fullness of Apostolic Christianity. The Sheptytsky Institute will have ample autonomy, but will at the same time be fully integrated into the Faculty of Theology and will have an impact on the kind of theologizing that happens here. “Our students will now be formed in both the Western and Eastern forms of Catholic theological thought in a way that cannot be matched in any university or seminary in North America,” said President Mulroney, echoing the thoughts of Professor James Ginther, Dean of the USMC Faculty of Theology.
The Acting Director of MASI, Fr. Peter Galadza, has a realistic view of the challenges ahead. “After all of the extensive negotiations, now begins the task of the physical move and the working out of hirings, course schedules, and a steep learning curve regarding the intricacies of TST structures and policies. It is all very refreshing, but there is also a mother lode of work ahead of us. Most importantly, we have been welcomed by St. Mike’s in an extremely positive way. That bodes well for the future.”
MASIF President Andrew Hladyshevsky opines that while everything is more expensive in Toronto, he believes the community will see the immense value of the work of the Sheptytsky Institute in further developing the intellectual life of the Ukrainian and other Eastern Christian Churches, since an increasingly secularized environment requires incisive insights from the faith community that offer compelling answers to the questions of our day. “I believe the community will see the need for well-prepared clergy and lay leaders and respond with strong support.”