Since 1856, the students, faculty and staff of the University of St. Michael’s College have contemplated their lives and purpose of education inside the walls of St. Basil’s Church. Today, St. Basil’s is the most well recognized Catholic symbol of the College, both as a building and as a centre of the sacramental life. The towering steeple rises above the campus for all in the community to see, and its message is amplified across the country through the national broadcast of its daily Masses.
As a collegiate church, St. Basil’s is the place of encounter with God and other people. Students are connected to the wider community, where the rich and poor gather; where people come in baptism and in death; where families come to ask God into the midst of their struggles. St. Basil’s is the place where questions are more important than answers; where mystery is embraced; where Truth is not proven, but encountered through relationship.
Much as they have since St. Michael’s founding, the Basilian Fathers continue to preach and teach goodness, discipline and knowledge in and around the walls of the sacred space. As the “Mother Church” of the Basilians, it is located just across the street from their curial offices and serves as a gathering place for the community to celebrate with fellow teachers, and former and present students. In this respect, St. Basil’s contains the living history of USMC.
Part of that history speaks to the wish of Captain John Elmsley when he donated the land to the Basilians: that a college and church be built together for future generations. Elmsley was a firm believer in the strength of education and the grace of the Eucharist. Decades later, students, faculty, staff, alumni and so many members of the community remain connected to St. Michael’s as they gather around the Eucharist.
Any given day, the high gothic ceilings look down on students and staff quietly praying in the silence. A few times a day, some of those same people will gather with others to remind themselves that their education is always at the service of others, as instructed by the Gospel.