January 24, 2011
Fr. Shayne Craig expects both the seminary and Newman College to grow in the future.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Fr. Shayne Craig expects both the seminary and Newman College to grow in the future.

RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Experience, patience and faith are essentials for the man at the helm of St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College.

For the past six months, Sulpician Father Shayne Craig, 46, has been focused on the new building and the move.

"We moved the seminary into the new building in August and so I've been dealing with the opening of the new building of the seminary for the last number of months," says Craig, who is both seminary rector and college president.

"That has not been a small bit of work - all kinds of issues of the building as well as the community living in it, as well as the overall formation program that I kind of oversee."

Now that he doesn't have those day-to-day worries about the building project, Craig said his job would change. "As those kind of cede, I will be able to turn my attention more to the ongoing functioning of the college and the seminary."

Throughout all of this, Craig has had the terrible feeling that "I am everywhere but nowhere at the same time. But I do the best I can."

The jobs of rector and president each have a different focus. As seminary rector, Craig is involved with the formation of seminarians for the priesthood. As college president he is devoted to administration.

Having been linked with Newman and the seminary for 25 years, Craig is well suited for both positions. He received his seminary training at St. Joseph and has served on the formation team, as vice-rector and finally as rector and college president.

"One of the gifts that I bring first and foremost is a knowledge of the college and its history because I have been around a long time," he said. He knows the local Church as well as the history of the college and seminary "and the place that they've played in people's lives and hearts."

"Institutional memory is very important. As we go to the future we can't forget the past."

Craig also brings "a love of the Church and the people that we serve, the seminarians, the students in the college as well as a great appreciation for the formation team, the faculty members of the college and my love and appreciation of my professors and all they sacrifice to serve the mission of the Church."

DIFFERENT CULTURES

He also has an experience of different cultures. He received training in France and Italy and worked with native people as a pastor on the West Coast.

"We are in a multicultural situation here. We have many students from different cultures in the seminary and the college and I think it's important to be able to work with different types of people with different backgrounds and viewpoints."

Craig says Newman College, like the Church, is continually changing and growing "because it's alive."

"The college has to continue to change to respond to the different needs of the Church at any different time."

Programs come and go at the college depending on the client base and needs of the Church, he said. A perennial part of the college's responsibility is to develop new programs that meet the needs of the Church.

One key area now is religious education, he said. The college has been providing programs for Catholic teachers. "That's a growing area and a very important area for the future."

Programs for chaplains

In the future the college may also offer formation programs for chaplains in hospital, prisons and with the military.

"We are hearing from Catholics that are involved in these areas of ministry that they need educational support and formation."

The college and seminary have also been on the forefront of providing intercultural formation for priests from overseas who come to serve in the Canadian Church, he said.

"They need some sort of formation and orientation program to help them function well in this new society and different culture."

MORE SEMINARIANS

Craig expects the number of seminarians to increase because of the support from bishops throughout the West. "I have every reason to believe that we are going to have a very large opening class for next year."

He also expects the new Catholic campus will have a huge impact in Edmonton and across the West.

That major Catholic institutions are located together at the centre of the archdiocese is a symbol of their desire to work together, he said.

"We don't want to be off in our own corners doing our own thing."

"We are also close to half the parishes in the city now whereas before we were close to two. That will help us; that will help people get access to the college and its resources and the library and our professors and programs."