“Go forth and set the world on fire”
In the Catholic faith, tradition is a process by which the Church reflects on, deepens its understanding of and hands-on to the next generation what it sees as essential to the Faith. From its founding by Archbishop Sinnot in 1926 and its adoption by the Jesuit Fathers in 1933, St. Paul’s has developed a rich history, a history which is lived out today. Over almost 100 years, the School has treasured its experience while continually responding to the changing needs of the times.
A person simply needs to wander the corridors of the school to see how the school values its history. Pictures of graduating classes, of sports teams and of drama productions are everywhere. Objects of art created over the years decorate the walls. Images of alumni who gave their lives in World War II daily remind passersby of their gallant sacrifice.
The School’s first location on Selkirk Avenue lasted only until 1931 when the move was made to a larger campus on Ellice Avenue, allowing for dormitory and field space. When in 1958 the College section moved to its current place on the University of Manitoba Fort Gary campus, it was clear that the school needed a more modern facility and that the need for a student residence was fading. Our current campus (occupied in 1964) at 2200 Grant Avenue is the school’s third.
The post-Vatican II world saw a need to rethink the school’s mission. When there were not enough Jesuits to fill teaching needs, the School began recruiting lay teachers and training them in the Ignatian educational philosophy and methods. In time and as necessary, the School responded to the spirit of ecumenism to welcome boys of other religious traditions. When during the 1980s it became apparent that there were many qualified students without the financial means to come to the School, a huge effort began to expand the School’s bursary program.
As the number of applicants to the School increased, the School responded by improving its physical capacity. During the early 1980s, what had been the Jesuit residence was converted into the Monaghan Wing to create additional classroom and teacher preparation space; at the same time, the science laboratories were improved. At the turn of the century, the School responded to the need for more diverse education and so the Jesuit Legacy Campaign led to the Angus Reid Centre which includes new regular classrooms, art, and band rooms, a multimedia lab, a new cafeteria and Crusader locker rooms. By 2007, the burgeoning number of extramural sports teams, fueled by the almost doubled school population from the 1970s, led to the June 2013 opening of the Paul Albrechtson Multiplex.
As the School moves towards its 100th anniversary in 2026, it continues to preserve and protect the best of its Catholic and Jesuit tradition: educating the whole boy: morally, intellectually and socially; witnessing to the service of the poor and the marginalized; inculcating the values of loving God and our neighbors. For, ultimately, our history is written not in books or on plaques on walls but in the hearts and minds of our students and alumni.