The University of St. Michael’s College Purchases Institutional Rights to Loretto College Residence
A new chapter in the life of the Loretto Sisters in Canada begins May 1, 2023, as the university assumes the management and operation of Loretto College women’s residence.
The Loretto Sisters (Institute for the Blessed Virgin Mary, IBVM) built and have operated the residence, located at 70 St. Mary Street on the northern edge of campus, since it opened its doors in 1959. While affiliated with St. Michael’s, residence services were offered by the IBVM rather than via St. Michael’s residence office. But Sr. Evanne Hunter, IBVM, says the time has come for St. Michael’s to assume oversight in order to secure the future of a women’s residence on campus, as well as to preserve the IBVM’s long legacy at the university.
“The Loretto Sisters have had a presence on the St. Michael’s campus for more than 100 years as professors, administrators, and as mentors,” Sr. Evanne says. “As the nature of community life changes for us, we are confident that selling institutional rights to the University of St. Michael’s College is the most logical way forward. With only four Sisters now living in Loretto College, it makes sense for St. Michael’s to take over operating Loretto College, a move which also allows St. Mike’s the opportunity to offer the option of a women’s-only residence.” Knowing that St Michael’s appreciates the history of Loretto and is committing to ensure that the legacy continues is a comfort to us as we make this difficult decision.”
Loretto College staff have all been offered positions at St. Michael’s or have opted to receive a buy-out package, she says.
Under the agreement, St. Michael’s has purchased the institutional rights to the residence and will manage four floors of residence rooms, with more than 100 residence beds. The residence will be managed and operated by the University’s Deans of Students’ Office and the University’s Facilities team.
The four Sisters living in the building will remain in residence, and the Regional Offices of IBVM in Canada will continue to be located at Loretto College. The Loretto Sisters will continue to operate the Mary Ward Centre for Education Spirituality and Justice, which hosts a variety of educational social justice programming. The Jesuit Forum for Faith and Social Justice and the Canadian Jesuits International will remain at Loretto College.
The enhanced partnership with the Mary Ward Centre is just one of the many ways the new arrangement is both beneficial and also reflective of the ongoing nature of the positive relationship between St. Michael’s and the Loretto Sisters, says University President David Sylvester.
“It is an honour for St. Michael’s to be entrusted with carrying the historic IBVM legacy forward, and extending and enhancing our partnership with the Mary Ward Centre will provide students with new opportunities to integrate faith and spirituality into their lives and the lives of the community,” Sylvester says. “The Loretto Sisters’ living legacy continues to support St. Mike’s commitment in our 180 strategic plan to build a welcoming community where people want to live, study, work, and visit.”
The Mary Ward Centre will develop programming in collaboration with the Loretto Sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Regis College and the University of St. Michael’s College. The centre has co-sponsored many recent events with St. Michael’s, including a discussion circle on Indigenous issues and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as a Festival of Girls and Women, honouring the impact of the Loretto Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph in empowering women and girls to be agents of change.