St. Joseph Seminary (SJS)

A Mission Statement

Called by the Archbishop of Edmonton who has associated with himself the other Bishops of Western Canada as its Board of Regents, SJS pursues its specific mission of training future priests.


SJS undertakes the task of forming future diocesan priests in the tradition of the Society of St. Sulpice:
  • By fostering the discernment of personal vocation as a free and generous response to the call of God for presbyteral ministry in the Church and the world;
  • By providing an educative community of directors and seminarians gathered in an Apostolic spirit around Our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • By fostering the integration of all aspects of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral.


Formation at SJS encompasses all four areas of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. Intellectual formation is ensured in partnership with NTC, for whom the seminary faculty also serve as instructors. Both institutions remain distinct, interdependent and complementary.

Historical Sketch

In September of 1927, Edmonton Archbishop H.J. O’Leary inaugurated SJS in the old Oblate Scholasticate with 66 seminarians. New facilities were built in 1957 on St. Albert Trail, and served to house the seminary until recently. In 2010 the seminary and college moved into beautiful new buildings on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in the heart of Edmonton.

The Priests of St. Sulpice, a society of diocesan priests whose specific mission is the service of the presbyteral ministry, accepted in 1990 the direction of the seminary, bringing with them their experience of 350 years in priestly formation.

Formation Program

The SJS formation aims at personalizing the whole process of the candidate’s formation. This means that it allows and fosters personal responsible assumption and integration of the seminarians’ own insights. We must never forget “that the candidate himself is a necessary and irreplaceable agent in his own formation; all formation, priestly formation included, is ultimately a self-formation” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 69).

Such integration can be fostered in four major ways or according to four major axes:

  • The first and main one is the constant search, both at the personal and communal levels, of an ever deeper union with Jesus the Good Shepherd, Prophet and Priest.
  • The second is that of the SJS community itself which constitutes a privileged milieu where the integration of the various dimensions of priestly life are actualized: the human, the intellectual, the spiritual, the pastoral, particularly through the modelling of the Formation Team members.
  • Spiritual direction is meant to be the means and the milieu par excellence for fostering personal integration and unity.
  • Finally the seminarian establishes at the beginning of the year a Personal Growth Plan which outlines the particular emphasis he intends to give to his spiritual and intellectual life, his community and pastoral involvement as well as his specific focus for his human and vocational growth.

This integral seminary formation (at the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral levels) takes place over at least an eight year period that begins with a propaedeutic year, two years of philosophy, two years of theology, a full year of supervised pastoral internship in a parish within the candidate’s diocese, and a return to the seminary for two more years of formation and theology. The seminary, in conjunction with NTC, makes use of an eight month year (fall semester, winter semester) for each of these years of full-time preparation for ordained ministry.

In its partnership with the seminary, NTC pursues the intellectual formation in theology, philosophy and pastoral reflection. Further to the usual requirements of the M.Div. or B.Th. programs, the candidate for priestly ministry must fulfill the academic requirements for ordination established by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Preparation for Ministry

The pastoral formation of seminarians encompasses three different and complementary elements:

  • The core of the pastoral formation is ensured through a complete year of pastoral internship. This year normally takes place after the completion of two full years of study in theology. During his internship, the seminarian is placed by his Bishop in a parish of his diocese. There he is initiated into many aspects of pastoral ministry and parish life under the supervision of the local pastor. Before entering into the experience and during the whole internship, he is prepared and accompanied by the Seminary Director of Internship. On site, the intern is also helped by a Lay Support Committee appointed by the local pastor. This internship year counts for 3 of the credits of the Field Education component of the M.Div. degree. However, these credits are not awarded until the completion of the second element.
  • The second element of pastoral formation involves a seminar of theological reflection on his internship with the guidance of the Director of Field Education. This seminar is a one-semester course and counts for the other 3 credits to complete the Field Education requirements for the M.Div. degree. All 6 credits are awarded upon completion of this second element. Seminarians are strongly encouraged to take a CPE unit as part of their pastoral formation, and often undertake this course prior to or after the pastoral internship year.
  • The third component of pastoral formation includes the pastoral work undertaken each year while Seminary is in session. Seminarians are placed each year by the Seminary’s Director of Pastoral Formation in different ministries appropriate to their year of formation. These include weekly ministry of 3 – 4 hours in Catholic Schools, various Parish ministries, hospitals, and other kinds of volunteer work. The seminary receives feedback from supervisors in each of these placements. In a similar fashion, the summer break is also a time for some possible pastoral formation in the seminarian’s home diocese. Prior to the end of the school year, formation goals for each seminarian are formulated and a plan for the summer is drawn up in concert with the Bishop or vocation director. This is a good opportunity for the seminarian to learn about the pastoral needs and situation in the local Church he is preparing to serve.


A more detailed exposition of the program of formation offered in SJS may be found in the seminary handbook.