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Winnipeg, MB, The Saint Arseny Orthodox Christian Theological Institute, 2003


Although it is not a parish community as such, the Saint Arseny Institute prepares lay-persons, readers, singers, deacons and others for service in the parish communities and institutions of the Orthodox Church.

The Saint Arseny Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an Orthodox Christian theological school under the direction of Archbishop Irénée (Rochon), Archbishop of Ottawa and the Archdiocese of Canada.

The institute is named after a beloved and revered servant and bishop of the Orthodox Church in Canada, Bishop Arseny (Chahovtsov), who fell asleep in the Lord in 1945. (See the history section of the institute’s web-site for more information about Saint Arseny himself.)


Arseny bw.jpg


Prehistory

According to the minutes of the Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg, at a parish meeting on 5 July, 1927, Bishop Arseny proposed the establishment of a theological school at the sobor. The school, unfortunately, was short-lived. However, since the Monastery of the Holy Ascension in Sifton, Manitoba, had re-opened the year before, the proposed pastoral school was eventually established at the monastery. There, there were sufficient monks with sufficient education to train candidates. At that time, Sifton was a populous and prosperous region. However, after World War II and the reductions in local industries and rural depopulation which ensued, both the monastery and the pastoral school suffered. By the 1950s, the pastoral school was not able to continue because of the lack of personal and financial resources.

More than 74 years after the 1927 meeting (on 4 August, 2001), an informal discussion at a reception for the newly-ordained Priest Stacey Richter raised the issue of the need for a theological school in Canada. Out of that discussion came a proposal to the Archdiocesan Council of the Archdiocese of Canada at its meeting in Winnipeg on 27 October, 2001, for the establishment of a theological institute at Holy Trinity Sobor.

Establishment of the institute

On 3 October, 2002, Bishop Seraphim (Storheim) sent a letter to the acting director of the institute, Spencer Estabrooks (at that time not yet ordained), stating :

 With this letter, I give officially the blessing for the establishment of the Saint Arseny Orthodox Christian 
 Theological Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Its purpose would be to increase the level of Education in 
 English for the local and nearby faithful ; to prepare readers and singers ; to prepare subdeacons ; and to 
 prepare deacons for service in the Church. The Institute will be under the Omophor of the Bishop of Canada, 
 and will report both to him and to the local dean.

Acting on this blessing, an administration was created for the institute as follows :

 Director – Spencer Estabrooks  
 Registrar – Father Mirone Klysh 
 Chaplain – Father Anatoly Melnyk
 Treasurer – Protodeacon Raphael Cole
 Dean – Father R Stephen Kennaugh.  

Others, including laity, would be added as needed, especially to help with matters such as fund-raising.

At the same time, the academic staff for the first year was established for the institute with the following members : Spencer Estabrooks, Father Anatoly Melnyk, and Father Mirone Klysh. Following a mailing of information about the institute to the clergy of the archdiocese, the institute administration received several offers of teaching support from some of the clergy. This response was most encouraging in that it fulfilled the plans of the institute that other clergy and qualified laity would become involved in teaching courses, tutoring, and other tasks on behalf of the institute in their own areas of the country and under the co-ordination of the institute. The Institute expected to have a method worked out by the 2004-5 academic year for having some of the institute’s programme conducted in various places across the country.

Beginning of teaching

In the spring of 2003, 2 pilot courses were offered by the institute for a period of 10 weeks : (1) the first half of a Reader’s Programme, and (2) “The Shape of the Early Church : 100-325 A.D.”.

In the fall of 2003, the institute was prepared to fulfil its mandate. In addition to the second half of the Reader’s Programme, the following 5 (of 20 one-term courses) were offered :

 (1) Church History : The First Eight Centuries 
 (2) Liturgics/Liturgical Theology : An Introduction 
 (3) Holy Scripture : A Comprehensive Introduction 
 (4) The Church Fathers : 2nd to 5th Centuries 
 (5) Orthodox Ethics/Spirituality

The lecture courses began on 8 September, 2003.

The cost of each credit course was set at $150.00 or $50.00 to audit, plus a registration fee of $10.00. An added fee of $25.00 was attached to correspondence courses. The cost of the Reader’s Programme was set at $75.00 per term. Students could study part-time or full-time for the diaconate, or for a Certificate in Theology. They could also take individual courses out of interest. A series of special lectures, workshops, panels, tours, retreats, etc. of interest to the general public were also to be planned as part of the institute’s activities.

Located in Winnipeg (a city of 650,000 in the southern part of the Province of Manitoba at the longitudinal centre of Canada, and the geographical heart of North America), the institute's classes are offered by various means in Winnipeg and in other centres in Canada, as well as by distance education.

The mandate of the institute is to prepare readers and deacons for service in the Church, as well as to increase the level of understanding about Orthodox theology for members of the laity who are interested in learning about the Orthodox Faith. The institute is also making preparations for a priestly-formation programme located in Canada.

At the present time, the institute offers :

 1. The Reader's Programme : a correspondence training programme for the office of Reader in the Orthodox 
 Church 
 2. A Certificate in Orthodox Theology : a programme of 20 one-term theological courses leading to a 
 certificate in Orthodox theology for laity 
 3. A Diploma in Orthodox Theology : a programme of 20 one-term theological courses, completion of (or a 
 demonstration of proficiency in) the Reader's Programme, and a practicum leading to a diploma which indicates 
 the completion of the academic qualifications for the Holy Diaconate

All the courses offered by the institute may be taken by correspondence.

The on-line academic journal, the "Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity", is published by the Saint Arseny Institute at : http://www.cjoc.ca.

Although the Saint Arseny Institute provides an essential service in preparing readers and deacons for the Archdiocese of Canada (and others), it is nevertheless funded solely by student fees and donations. All donations are welcome.

The Director of the Institute :

Father Anthony (Spencer) Estabrooks came to Orthodox Christianity from a Protestant Christian background in 1992. He was ordained in January, 2010. He served at the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring Mission until 2017, and then at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In addition to these responsibilities, he teaches courses for the Saint Arseny Institute, and he is Editor-in-Chief of the Institute's on-line academic journal, the “Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity”.

The Registrar of the Institute :

Father Mirone Klysh was a pioneer in establishing an English-speaking parish and in promoting English-language Orthodoxy in Canada. He has mentored a good number of younger priests, and he has served for more than 50 years in the priesthood, thus gaining a wealth of pastoral wisdom for the benefit of the many who have been taught by him.

Other personnel :

Deacon Lasha Tchantouridze is the Managing Editor of the "Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity". He began this service while he lived in Winnipeg, and he continues his work from the United States where he now works. His contact information is :

 50, Abbott Avenue 
 Barre, Vermont 05641 
 USA 
 Phone : (802) 485-2095
 Fax : (802) 485-2533 
 Email : editor@cjoc.ca 

Subdeacon Roger Prince of Winnipeg, Manitoba, serves as the Seretary-Treasurer of the institute. He is a parishioner of Saint Nicholas Church in Narol, Manitoba.

Teaching staff :

In 2017, the main teaching staff of the institute consists of : The Priest Anthony Estabrooks, the Protopresbyter Mirone Klysh, the Mitred Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk and the Deacon Lasha Tchantouridze.

There are many clergy and lay-persons in Canada who have a high theological education. It has been the desire of the institute to be able to include as many as possible of such persons, so as to enable in different communities the distance education which has now become possible with the "on-line" resources presently available to the institute. Finance has always been a limiting factor.

Address :

Saint Arseny Orthodox Christian Institute

c/o 150, Canora Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3G 1T2


E-mail : institute@saintarseny.ca

Web-stie : http://www.saintarseny.ca


Contacts :

Priest Anthony S Estabrooks, Director of Saint Arseny Institute

150, Canora Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3G 1T2

Phone : (204) 783-5350

E-mail : institute@saintarseny.ca


Protopresbyter Mirone R Klysh, Registrar of Saint Arseny Institute

3, Prestwood Place,

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3T 4Y9

Phone : (204) 269-3743

E-mail : lklysh@shaw.ca


References :

Lesyk, Elsie, “Sifton Then and Now : A Reminiscence of the Pioneer Era” (Dauphin : Elsie Lesyk, 1992).

Saint Arseny Institute web-page


Additional information :

Archdiocese of Canada — Orthodox Church in America, “The Orthodox Church in Canada : A Chronology” (Ottawa : Archdiocese of Canada, 1988).

Archdiocese listing

‘Our Canadian Chrysostom, Archbishop Arseny (1866-1945)’ in “Canadian Orthodox Messenger” (Spring, 2001), pp. 10, 12.

'Orthodox theological institute, named after the Blessed Arseny, begins in Winnipeg' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Autumn, 2003), p. 14.

‘St Arseny Institute completes first full year’ in “Canadian Orthodox Messenger” (Autumn, 2004), p. 8.

'First annual St Arseny commemoration held' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Winter, 2004/2005), pp. 1-2.

‘Saint Arseny Institute news’ in “Canadian Orthodox Messenger” (Spring, 2006), p. 4.