Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Sciences


Ben F. Meyer




The aim of this dissertation is first to detail the changes that have taken place in two Roman Catholic seminaries in southern Ontario in the course of the decade 1962-1972; second, to discern the direction of these changes as well as the forces that are powering them and their impact on priestly self-understanding in the Catholic Church of southern Ontario. In virtue of the social organization of Catholicism, such developments have far-reaching significance. They affect not only the clergy but the church at large and they are an index to the evolution of Catholic self-understanding far beyond the borders of southern Ontario.

This dissertation is in two parts. Part One is informational, reporting changes that have taken place from 1962 to 1972 in the two major seminaries of southern Ontario: Saint Augustine's in Toronto and Saint Peter's in London. These changes are detailed under three headings: philosophical, theological and spiritual formation. Part Two is analytic in the manner of contemporary social religious history. It attempts to say what the changes mean; that is, "what is going forward" in our time in and through the changes. The hypothesis of Part Two: the priesthood is being re-conceived in terms of ministerial function (on a "prophetic-deaconal" model) rather than as "state of life" (on a "sacro-hierarchic" model) and the priestly function (preaching and Eucharistic celebration) is increasingly seen:

a) in the larger context of a common Christian task.

b) the task being to create, sustain and develop Christian Community

c) a Community which interacts and shares.

Thus the ,barriers created by previously authoritarian structures are laboriously given way to the expression in Community of a "holistic" environmental dynamic," favouring the fuller charisms of all individuals.

This changed priestly ideal and self-understanding has emerged from an ancient understanding of the Church and one attested in our day by the documents of Vatican II. But if this vision of the Church is to make its way as the Catholic self-understanding of our time, it would be through a new priJestly self-understanding, ready to acknowledge the existence of charisms among the laity and to invite and capitalize on their expression. Such is "the meaning of the changes" reported and analyzed in the present study.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Religion Commons