Congregation of St. Basil / Basilian Fathers
The Congregation of St. Basil has supported Catholic education in Toronto since 1852, and still gives generously to the University of St. Michael’s College and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.
The Congregation of St. Basil’s spiritual, scholarly and philanthropic commitment to the University of St. Michael’s College is immeasurable, dating back to the very founding of the College by the Basilian Fathers in 1852, extending through their decades of service as professors, mentors and administrators, and including their leadership as advocates for St. Michael’s federation with the University of Toronto.
Their contributions continue to this day through their gifts in support of chaplaincy, student aid and professorships in the Faculty of Theology, and through their establishment of the Basilian Chair in Christianity, Arts, and Letters. This includes a $3-million gift toward an endowed professorship in Early Latin theology, which reinforces the role of St. Michael’s as a leading centre for theological study.
The Basilian Fathers were instrumental in the founding of the University of St. Michael’s College. It was the Bishop of Toronto, Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel, who asked the Basilian Fathers in the mid-19th century to help develop and care for an educational institution in the city. St. Michael’s College was founded a year later and provided instruction at the high school, college and seminary levels.
In 1881, St. Michael’s became affiliated with the University of Toronto. At the turn of the 20th century, the Basilian Fathers at St. Michael’s taught a classical curriculum that prepared aspirants to the priesthood. However, many Catholic students aspired to careers in law, medicine or engineering. Basilian Father Henry Carr, CSB, professor and Superior at St. Michael’s College, and Superior General of the Congregation of St. Basil from 1930 to 1942, helped facilitate a curriculum expansion, laying the foundation for St. Michael’s to attract intellectual luminaries such as Sir Bertram Windle, Étienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain and Marshall McLuhan.
Today, the Basilian Fathers continue to serve and give to the University of St. Michael’s College and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, and to their vibrant Catholic intellectual communities. Their generosity helps support faculty members, residences and building spaces, as well as establishing scholarships.
St. Michael’s alumni remember the Basilian Fathers as exceptional teachers and mentors. Their many contributions continue to enrich the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and to advance Catholic education across North America and beyond.