St Joseph's College
St. Joseph's College is probably one of the most familiar but least known buildings of the University. Situated in the centre of the campus, nestled between its sister-institution St. Stephen's College, the Administration Building, University Hall, and the Students' Union Building, its mellow façade, fronted by lawn and trees, it is at one and the same time taken for granted and the subject of many mistaken impressions. Ideas of its nature range from the commonly accepted (but incorrect) notion that "only priests live there," through allied concepts, "only students who want to be priests live there" (equally incorrect), to the wilder views, "I always thought it was just professors' offices." Currently celebrating its Fiftieth Jubilee as a physical entity on campus, St. Joseph's is the Roman Catholic College on campus, home to seventy students during the academic year, the centre of the Roman Catholic community associated with the University, and the alma mater of several thousands of alumni who have lived or been taught within its walls since 1927.
St Joseph’s College was founded in 1926 to offer Catholic post-secondary education. The Archbishop at the time was John Joseph O’Leary, who arranged to have the Christian Brothers assume College administration, a task they undertook and maintained until 1963. The Christian Brothers also were members of other faculties at the University of Alberta. Early courses at St Joseph’s College focused on Christian apologetics, ethics, and philosophy.
In 1963, when the Christian Brothers gave up control of the College, Archbishop John Hugh MacDonald asked the Basilian Fathers to take on administrative responsibility for the College and they agreed. Over the years and in keeping with the growing numbers of lay people involved in religious life, there have been increasing numbers of lay people involved with St Joseph’s College.
The 1926 building originally housed the dining room under the chapel, and, in the basement, students could find “Little Tuck”, a smaller and cozier version of “Big Tuck”, the Tuck Shop across from St Stephen’s College. Little Tuck sold coffee, doughnuts, and pies and was frequented not only by students of theology, but also by students from across the campus. The College also housed residences, classrooms, and a gymnasium. Many alumni will recall the formal dances held in the gymnasium and special occasion dances to celebrate St Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas. Students who lived in residence will recall the Basilian Fathers' rapping on their doors in the early morning to wake them for Mass. The Chapel was noted for being quite cold, so students would wrap themselves in toques and scarves for early morning Mass.
In the 1920s, the residence was full and, at times, broom closets were rented out to visiting students for 50 cents a night; a room with a sink would cost an extra dollar per month.
Building renovation in the 1960s included new pews and an altar for the chapel. Through a donation from the Knights of Columbus, a new library was built. Today, the library houses 45,000 volumes and subscribes to 75 periodicals focusing on Christian theology, philosophy, and ethics.
Today, the Chapel is the spiritual centre of the College: daily Masses are held there throughout the school term. The Chapel also offers the sacraments of baptism, marriage, and the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
The mission of St Joseph’s College is to “discover, integrate, and disseminate truth, as revealed by God, discerned by reason, [and] experienced in community".
The Men’s Residence houses 59 St Joe’s Rangers who live in a community that integrates spiritual and academic life with athletics, social activities, and community service. The Women’s Residence, Kateri House, is part of the HUB Residence on campus.
Undergraduate courses at St. Joseph’s College complement Arts degree studies through courses in applied ethics, philosophy, religious education, and theology. The College offers 29 courses in Christian theology and nine in philosophy.
A Bachelor of Arts Minor in Christian Theology is an interdisciplinary degree supported by courses offered at St Joseph’s College, St Stephen’s College, Religious Studies, and the Department of History and Classics.
For more information, please visit the St Joseph’s College website.