STM DONATION — STM President Dr. Terrence Downey, Les and Irene Dubé, and Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen attend an announcement about a $1 million leadership gift for a new Chair of Catholic Studies at St Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. (Yaworski photo)
STM endowed chair receives $1 million gift
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
SASKATOON — Local philanthropists Leslie and Irene Dubé have donated $1 million in support of an endowed Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.
The Catholic college is in the midst of a $6 million “Creating More” capital
campaign to establish the endowed chair, as well as to expand the existing
STM building on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
“This chair is to be a source of intellectual leadership for STM and for the broader Catholic and local communities through an annual public lecture, guest lectures, invited presentations, availability to the diocese and Catholic school boards and to the Catholic and secular media for commentary and expertise on Catholic issues and publications to be available to the local and provincial community,” said Downey.
The Chair for Catholic Studies will support and enhance the Catholic vision and mission of the college — a timely and historic undertaking as the Basilian order formally withdraws from the institution they established at the University of Saskatchewan more than 75 years ago, Downey said.
“St. Thomas More College’s venerable tradition is going to be enhanced by this chair,” said Bishop Donald Bolen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
“The Catholic Studies chair addresses a profound need in our day,” Bolen said. It responds to “a call to be creative in speaking the word of faith and hope which is at the heart of the gospel, and to speak that word in a way that captures minds and hearts.”
There is a great need to bring the rich Catholic tradition into dialogue with contemporary culture, the bishop added. “We feel that need intensely in the church, we feel it in the pews, where people who have received the faith from those who have gone before them are asking all kinds of questions. We hear it especially from our young people who need to bring the insights and richness of our tradition into dialogue with our culture.”
STM Student Union president and political studies student Desireé Steele described how the Catholic intellectual tradition at STM has enhanced her education.
“I didn’t learn about this tradition from a PowerPoint at orientation or a slide in the cafeteria. Rather, I am learning it by living it at STM. For me, the endowed chair in Catholic studies means more opportunities to grow as a person. I look forward to learning from top-notch Catholic Studies scholars, whether in class or a lecture series. I envision new directions in Community Service Learning programs and the Service and Justice program, and new areas of research for students in concert with a visiting professor,” she said.
Fundraising for the endowed chair will be ongoing, as in the long term the Chair for Catholic Studies will be funded by interest from the endowment — which will ensure the chair’s role will continue at the Catholic college, independent of other funding, fees or tuition, said Downey.
“In the early years, this won’t be an appointment of one individual, but rather the sponsoring of various talks about issues having to do with Catholic studies, having to do with ethics, having to do with Catholic education, having to do with tradition and the history of the church and so on,” said STM’s president.
Les Dubé said that when the idea of the Chair for Catholic Studies was presented, it was easy to step forward to support it. He added that it is a very humbling experience to be able to make such contributions for the good of the community. Les and Irene Dubé donations have supported the Community Service Learning project at STM and a wide range of health institutions and initiatives in the city, as well as ongoing efforts to feed the hungry through the Saskatoon Food Bank, and support for the diocesan cathedral project.