TORONTO – The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies celebrated its move from Ottawa to Toronto with a garden party and public lecture at its new location on the campus of the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.
The July 25 festivities also featured the blessing of MASI’s new home, Windle House. Officiating were Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto, and Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great in Paris.
Afterwards, Bishop Gudziak delivered a lecture about the significance of the Sheptytsky Institute.
Some 400 people attended the ceremonies; among them were professors, clergy, students and community members.
The institute was conceived in 1986. There was a need for an institution of higher learning where the Eastern Christian tradition – in dialogue with Western thought – would be studied in its varied forms. The purpose was to provide leaders confident of this tradition’s power to change lives today.
The Sheptytsky Institute was founded by Father Andriy Chirovsky as a summer program within Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union (CTU). The official birth of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies dates to May 1986. Then a four-week summer program, it was expected to be entirely self-sustaining with all costs to be covered by student tuition fees. Several small grants were provided by Ukrainian financial institutions of Chicago. The fact that Father Chirovsky was employed full-time by the Catholic Theological Union, teaching patristics and courses in Eastern Christianity, helped the situation.
The first summer program was held in 1987. Father Peter Galadza and doctoral candidate Borys Gudziak (now president of the Ukrainian Catholic University) soon came on board as students. Other students came from various countries, but not from Ukraine, which was still under Soviet rule at that time.
Thinking of the future
But Father Chirovsky was thinking ahead. Since no one in the United States had shown any interest in the new institution, he turned his attention to Canada. He had elicited interest from Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk (the Ukrainian Catholic primate of Canada), who persuaded him to come to a meeting of the bishops of Canada in February 1989. The proposal was put to the bishops, and it was suggested that the relocation of the Sheptytsky Institute from Chicago to Ottawa could be a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. The bishops accepted the proposal and voted unanimously to extend their help to re-locating it from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to St. Paul University in Ottawa.
The bishops included Metropolitan Hermaniuk (Winnipeg, Manitoba); Bishops Basil Filevich (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Demetrius Greschuk (Edmonton, Alberta), Jerome Chimy (New Westminster, British Columbia), Myron Daciuk (Auxiliary of Winnipeg); they were joined by Bishop Isidore Borecky (Toronto). Thus, the Sheptytsky Institute had the official backing of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy of Canada.
And so, on Labor Day weekend 1989, the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute (MASI) was born. Father Chirovsky wrote, “I am convinced that it was the historic bond between the French Canadian Oblate Missionaries and the early Ukrainian settlers in Western Canada that played an important role in St. Paul University’s decision to meet the Ukrainians half way.”
Father Phillip Ruh, who had designed the beautiful Ukrainian churches across Canada, had been a member of the Oblates.
The Ukrainian Catholic Congress of Canada, the lay leaders of the Church, designated the relocation of the institute as their official project of the centenary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada.
According to church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, for whom the institute is named, “was the most influential figure… in the entire history of the Ukrainian Church in the 20th century.”
Sheptytsky was born Count Roman Aleksander Sheptytsky in the village of Prylbychi, 40 kilometers from Lviv, in the kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria – a crownland of the Austrian Empire. Despite his father’s opposition, Sheptytsky became a monk in the Basilian monastery in Dobromyl. He took the name Andrey and studied at the Jesuit Seminary in Krakow, Poland. He was ordained a priest in 1892 and in 1899 was nominated by Emperor Franz Joseph to the position of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic bishop of Stanislaviv. In 1900 he was appointed metropolitan-archbishop of Lviv and enthroned on January 17, 1901. In 1910 he visited North America, where he met with Ukrainian Catholic communities in the United States and Canada.
The move to Ottawa
In 1990, the Sheptytsky Institute moved to St. Paul University in Ottawa, where it created a comprehensive program in Eastern Christian Studies – from the bachelor’s degree level to the Ph.D.
Father Chirovsky wrote: “The early years in Ottawa were not easy. We needed to convince the Faculty of Theology that, although it might appear that we had been foisted upon them from above by the Oblates, we would make good colleagues.”
In 2011 the Sheptytsky Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary as part of St. Paul University. In 2013 the Sheptytsky Institute was chosen as one of the few institutions from across Canada to form part of the Governor General’s delegation to the inauguration of Pope Francis; Father Galadza represented MASI.
The Sheptytsky Institute has benefitted greatly from the generous support of benefactors in the community. Drs. Peter and Doris Kule have chairs endowed in their names and they have received honorary doctorates from the chancellor of St. Paul University.
As Father Chirovsky has written, they are deservedly regarded as “unprecedented Ukrainian Canadian philanthropists of higher education” and, according to Father Galadza, “they could well be considered the greatest educational philanthropists in modern Ukrainian history.”
Peter Kule was a successful real estate investor and was among the founders of the Ukrainian Professional and Businessmen’s Club in Edmonton. The Kules are major supporters of higher education who have contributed to Edmonton’s Grant MacEwan College, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, the Kule Folklore Center and the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa.
In its 30-year history, the Sheptytsky Institute has hired more than 60 professors and instructors to teach individual courses, covering a wide spectrum of Eastern Christian Studies from diverse communities: Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Romanian and Greek-Catholic.
The Peter and Doris Kule Chair of Eastern Christian Theology and Spirituality has been held by Father Chirovsky since its inauguration in 1994. The Kule Family Chair in Eastern Christian Liturgy has been held by Father Peter Galadza since its inauguration in 1997.
FAQ About the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute
Following are some frequently asked questions about the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies.
What is MASI?
The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies is an autonomous academic unit of the Faculty of Theology of the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) at the University of Toronto. It specializes in the theology, spirituality, liturgy, history and ecclesial polity of the Eastern Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic. The institute focuses on all four families of Eastern Churches: Eastern Orthodox, Pre-Chalcedonian, Assyrian and Eastern Catholic.
When was it founded?
The Sheptytsky Institute was founded in 1986 by Father Andriy Chirovsky in Chicago. In 1990, MASI moved to Ottawa’s St. Paul University. In 2016, MASI signed an agreement with USMC paving the way for its move to Toronto. Since July 1, MASI has been an autonomous academic unit within USMC’s Faculty of Theology and part of the Toronto School of Theology, an ecumenical consortium of seven colleges.
For whom is MASI named?
Born in 1865 into an aristocratic family in present-day western Ukraine, Andrey Sheptytsky became the metropolitan, the highest ranking leader of the Greco-Catholic Church in Europe, in 1901. He held this position until his death in 1944.
A man of deep prayer, a gifted teacher, preacher and philanthropist, he greatly valued education (having the equivalent of three doctorates himself). He founded the Lviv Theological Academy in 1929. He is particularly renowned for sheltering more than 150 Jews during the Holocaust, for which the Canadian House of Commons in April 2012 honored his heroism with a unanimous resolution.
Who can study at MASI?
Students of MASI include university students studying at USMC and the University of Toronto, as well as clergy, church leaders and lay individuals from North America, Ukraine, the Middle East and around the world. One of its most notable former students is Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, who is MASI’s international patron.
What courses and programs does MASI offer?
MASI offers primarily graduate university degree programs in Eastern Christian Studies. Some undergraduate course offerings are being contemplated at this time. At the graduate level there are two professional (pastorally oriented) degrees: the M.A. and the M.T.S. with an emphasis on Eastern Christianity, as well as two research-oriented degrees: the M.A. and the Ph.D.
Four general areas of specialization are represented by MASI professors: Spirituality-Doctrine, Liturgical Studies, Historical Studies, as well as Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Relations with Eastern Christianity. Some courses are offered online as distance education.
How is MASI funded?
Several income streams support MASI. USMC shares tuition income with MASI and gives the institute infrastructure support (use of Kindle House and chapel space in Elmsley Hall, administrative support, basic office equipment and building maintenance). Salaries are covered by donations from the MASI Foundation, which holds the institute’s endowments.
The Ukrainian Canadian philanthropists Peter and Doris Kule of Edmonton stand out as the institute’s greatest benefactors to date. In the 1990s they endowed two academic chairs named in their honor, and continue to generously support the institute’s work.
A registered charity in Canada and a 501(c)(3) in the United States, the foundation makes donations to help USMC with the institute’s annual budget. MASI’s academic and support staff are employees of USMC. The foundation also invested wisely years ago in the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund; thus, there are some monies set aside for scholarships for Ontario residents wishing to study at MASI. The institute also has a small revenue stream from the sale of some of its publications.
Source: St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. For more information about MASI, visit the website www.sheptytskyinstitute.ca.