In a scene from Put Out into the Deep, seminarian Kristopher Schmidt prays at the seminary.


In a scene from Put Out into the Deep, seminarian Kristopher Schmidt prays at the seminary.

September 12, 2011

The building and blessing of the new St. Joseph Seminary and the lives of the people who serve and study within its walls are featured in a new television documentary that premieres this month on Salt + Light TV.

Put Out into the Deep is a half-hour program that looks at the history and reconstruction of St. Joseph's, the first major seminary to be built in Canada in the new millennium.

Along with striking footage of the grounds and architecture, it tells the story through the voices of those most closely involved in the project, and introduces viewers to three young seminarians who followed very different paths to the seminary doors.

The documentary was shot over a week last spring by a crew directed by Kris Dmytrenko of Salt + Light.

"As soon as we arrived at St. Joseph Seminary, we went to work trying to document the beauty of the new building," recalled Dmytrenko.

"This presented its own challenges, as its use of light makes it much more dramatic in person than in photographs. We also wanted to capture the Eucharistic spirituality that pervades the facility, emanating from the chapel."

"Beyond this, I hope that we were able to convey a sense of the seminary life, cultivated by its rector and staff. Its students, however, are the seminary's best ambassadors. While the Gospel is shown in the building's art and architecture, it's more tangibly revealed in the vocation stories of the seminarians."

Father Shayne Craig, seminary rector, said the formation team "couldn't be happier" at the way the crew managed to portray the unique qualities of the seminary as a house of formation and discernment in the heart of the city.

"The seminary, situated in its relationship to the past, to the Church, to our life here in Western Canada - open to the past, present and future - this is brought out by the filmmakers in a singular way."

As for the disruption of having a camera crew in house, Craig was generous: "Their discreet presence among us - a small group of young people filled with faith and with a sense of call themselves - were an inspiring and peace-filled moment, despite the many busy and chaotic moments that surrounded the ceremony of dedication."

The documentary, which was partly financed by the Alberta-Mackenzie Provincial Council of the CWL, also introduces viewers to people involved in the Cornerstone of Faith fundraising campaign. Other perspectives are offered from Newman Theological College, the bishops of Calgary and Saskatoon and even the Alberta premier.

Put Out into the Deep takes its title from the Gospel passage Luke 5.1-11, in which Jesus tells Peter to head out to the deep water and lower the nets, and later advises the disciples, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."

The call is echoed symbolically in the imagery of fish and nets in the bronze doors of the seminary chapel.


"The design serves as a reminder to all that, here, we are training men to be priests of the new evangelization, sent into the deep waters of our day under the direction of Jesus Christ," Archbishop Richard Smith tells those gathered for the chapel dedication.

"Only if we begin in and from the Lord will the catch be abundant. Apart from him, we shall simply 'work hard all night but catch nothing.'"

For Dmytrenko, the project opened a refreshing view of contemporary vocations.

"When I tell others that we filmed the blessing of a new seminary facility, people are often surprised," he said.

"They ask, 'But aren't vocations to the priesthood in decline?' A visit to St. Joseph Seminary quickly dispels the pessimism. The archdiocese is presenting a positive, compelling vision of the future of vocations in Western Canada."

Put Out into the Deep will be shown Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. MT and 11 p.m. MT as well as Sunday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m. MT and 11:30 p.m. MT.

Salt+Light TV can be viewed online at It is also available for a small monthly subscription fee on Bell Satellite TV Channel 654; Shaw Digital Channel 160; Telus Optik TV Channel 159.