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Now entering its second decade, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy offers one-, two-, and three-year post-secondary programs in the classical liberal arts, within the light of the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Our credits have been accepted at a growing number of universities and colleges, including:
Franciscan University of Steubenville, Christendom College, Ave Maria University, Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Redeemer University College, Dominican University College, Tyndale University College, and Campion College in Sydney, Australia. Our alumni have been able to graduate with degrees from these schools in one to three years, depending upon their major of choice and the length of their studies at OLSWA.
Our programs feature courses in Philosophy, Theology, Literature, History, Languages, Mathematics, Music, Fine Arts, and Natural and Social Science. These studies help to deepen the student’s appreciation of the richness of his or her Catholic faith, and offer the intellectual tools needed to be an effective apostle in the third millennium.
We strive to keep our costs low: For the 2012-2013 academic year, tuition is $5,950 per year plus a $200 student activities fee, while room and board for students in residence is $5,000 per year.
In the 2012-2013 academic year, there are 73 students enrolled for full-time studies at OLSWA.
Click on a slide below to explore more about OLSWA:
Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada—near the East Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park
Five minute walk from the shores of Kamaniskeg Lake
2 ½ hours west of Ottawa
4 hours north-east of Toronto
15-minute drive from Madonna House, Combermere
73 Full-time Students from across Canada, the US, and England
10 Faculty Members, 8 Adjunct Faculty Members
$5,950 + $200 CAD Student Activity Fee (2012-2013)
ROOM AND BOARD
Hiking, canoeing, and swimming
Hockey and skating
Tennis, basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and volleyball
Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu Pro-Life Club
Don Bosco Drama Club
Frassati Outdoors Club, The Evangelization Club, and more
The Academy Schola (choir) with Maestro Uwe Liefländer
Planned Events: Men’s Nights & Women’s Nights, Winter Formal, and more
Daily Parish Mass and Rosary
Weekly Academy Mass
Spiritual Direction and Confession
Daily Eucharistic Adoration
Weekly Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine)
Monthly Praise and Adoration
Annual Consecration to Jesus through Mary
Annual Pilgrimage to Canadian Martyrs' Shrine
[Updated September 20, 2012]
Student Life Overview
What follows is an overview of some of the key features of OLSWA’s Student Life program. For more information on student life, please visit our Student Life page. A complete guide to the policies and procedures pertaining to student life is available in the Student Handbook.
Students at the Academy live in small men’s and women’s households. The households are designed to foster genuine Christian friendship and growth, and the furthering of a sacramental prayer life. Residence life is more than merely living in a “dorm.” The residence is a place where real human development is expected to take place, a place to study, and a place to relax. The residences are, in effect, the students’ homes and all residents participate in household upkeep through assigned chores each week. Residence Assistants are upper-year students designated to facilitate the smooth operation of the residences and to ensure that student life policies are respected.
While not exclusive to students of the Catholic faith, the Academy was founded with Catholicism at the centre. Opportunities to strengthen and grow in faith, therefore, are readily available to all OLSWA students. There are two Catholic churches in Barry’s Bay, together offering daily Mass, daily Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and confession at different times. St. Hedwig Church, directly across the square from our main Academic buildings, becomes a spiritual home for many students during their time at the Academy. On Mondays during the school year, our chaplain celebrates a special Academy Mass at St. Hedwig’s, and he is available before and after this Mass for confession and spiritual direction. Our chaplain also has scheduled availability for students later in the week, and other area priests are available at various times. There is a calendar with important feast days and saints’ days prominently displayed, and the liturgical year is kept in the forefront of all we do. Prayer as a household and before classes, meals, and other activities keeps Christ the central focus of life at the Academy. Madonna House, about a 20-minute drive away from the Academy, is a spiritual haven for prayer and a centre for "renewing all things in Christ."
OLSWA students have a plethora of options as to how to spend their time when they are not engrossed in their studies, with both school-run and student-lead events throughout the year. Field trips are organized, such as annual religious pilgrimages or skate days on the Ottawa canal. Closer to home, the small-town/rural setting of Barry’s Bay provides an ideal environment for outdoor activities. Volleyball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee are favourites among the students, and as the weather gets colder many students participate in gym sports and then hockey on Friday nights.
Other favourite activities include participation in the yearly drama production, spearhead by the Don Bosco Drama Club. Many students perform in concerts with the Academy’s Schola, or get involved in various on-campus clubs. Formal dances, informal dances, swing dances and ceili dances take place throughout the year, not to mention household nights and special event parties. In the midst of such activities, of course, students are always encouraged to participate in some form of community service, such as visits to the local nursing home.
Beauty of Barry's Bay
OLSWA is located in the picturesque village of Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. Just south of famous Algonquin Park, the Academy is nestled in the natural wonderland of the Madawaska Valley and the cultural bouquet of Catholic Kashub Polish, Irish, French and Native cultures.
A short drive from Algonquin Provincial Park, students are well placed to enjoy many outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, skating and skiing. Both Ottawa and Toronto are accessible within a few hours.
Algonquin Park (official site | canoe routes)
Village of Barry's Bay (site1 | site2 | site3)
Home of Zura and the Avro Arrow (park | history)
The Madawaska Valley is a spiritual getaway for many people throughout the year. Only kilometers away in Combermere you will find opportunity for spiritual direction and retreats with Madonna House Catholic Apostolate and the Companions of the Cross. The region is also home to dozens of active Catholic families and a thriving Catholic homeschool network.
A post-secondary Catholic liberal arts school here in Canada has been an aspiration and an ideal in the minds of many in the Madawaska valley. The dream seemed impossible, but, as we all know, that word does not apply to God. After all, what do you need to teach the truth? A few good books, a few good men and women willing to teach and be taught, and perhaps a building (at least when the weather gets cold or wet!).
Seeded by Helen Fritz, Fr. Leo Sands, O.S.B, Sheila O'Brien, and teachers George Dienesch and Luc Dauvin, followed by John Paul Meenan, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy began operation in the village of Combermere as a small study centre with a few dedicated teachers and a group of six eager young students. The teaching and tuition were free; the small "proto-college" was named, appropriately enough, Mater Ecclesiae. Students and teachers would meet in living rooms, hay lofts, basements, wherever they could find room, and together discuss the truths of our faith, history and civilization. There were numerous hikes, pilgrimages, outings and social events to provide recreation and a break from the studies.
It was during that year that the diocese, which supported the project of Catholic higher education, offered the use of the former Saint Joseph’s convent, located in Barry’s Bay just north of Combermere. That fall, in the Jubilee year of 2000, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy had its official inaugural year, with nine students and pioneer teachers, including the intrepid Scott Nicholson. We gathered what furniture we could, housing the students in the upper level of the convent and in a rented house, with Katie Parks as memorable house-mother and cook. The original curriculum of basic courses in introductory theology, philosophy, history, logic and Latin, still provides the basis for our now much-expanded course of studies.
Each year since then we have grown, bit by bit, hiring more teachers and staff, and renting more housing to accommodate our growing student body. After two years of operation, we began a second year of studies, and, in 2004, a third. We now have a sizeable group of instructors from a variety of disciplines, and our student body hails from all over Canada and the United States.
Vision and Values
Under the mantle of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, we will provide a vibrant Catholic liberal arts education that integrates faith and reason in all of its disciplines, embraces Divine Revelation, and is rooted in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Our students will be nourished in a thriving Catholic culture that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, will lead them to answer God’s call to transform the world through their witness to the saving power of the Truth Who sets us free, Jesus Christ.
We recognize that what is truly valued most in a society influences all other aspects of that society. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission.” For Catholics, the Eucharist is a criterion for our evaluation of everything that we encounter. Eucharistic spirituality “embraces the whole of life” (c.f. Pope Benedict XVI, “Sacramentum Caritatis” 77-78).
We are obedient to Christ through the authority of the Church.
Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Research
In our pursuit of excellence in education, we ensure that the teaching provided is of the highest quality. We are committed to offering an integrated program that features a strong core curriculum in the Catholic tradition of the liberal arts, but that also allows students to pursue individual intellectual interests. By ensuring both depth and breadth, we encourage students to see the greater context of what they are learning, and to approach the pursuit of truth as a life-long endeavour. Our small classes are intended to ensure interaction between students and instructors, and among students themselves. Students are to pursue their studies in a conscientious and responsible manner. Instructors are to conduct research in order to enrich their teaching and to engage in dialogue amongst themselves and with the broader academic community.
Union with God is the ultimate goal of our life, and is achieved by the life of holiness, the life of ever more perfectly knowing, loving, and serving God. Our transformation is the work of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. As Catholic scholars, we impart the truths of Divine Revelation included in Church Tradition and teachings, which form a basis for the spiritual life in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes our transformation into holiness. Union with Christ is approached most efficaciously by worship and reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Mass, encounters which are prolonged and deepened in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Prayer enables kenosis, or emptying of self, so that “I must decrease and Christ must increase.” Our instructors, staff, and students choose a life of holiness, and we will do all we can to encourage and support one another to “be perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). The ways of holiness are many, and we will provide support and encouragement according to the vocation of each individual by teaching, example, spiritual direction and the fullness of the sacramental life, including employing the Sacrament of Reconciliation to maintain the entire academic community in the state of grace. Thus, holiness will enter into every aspect of our life as each individual strives to perfectly know, love and serve God.
Knowing about God must be coupled with our active love of God and neighbour. As St. Paul reminds us, possessing all knowledge, understanding and eloquence is meaningless without love. Mindful of this, we recognize each person as a son or daughter of God who reflects His image and likeness, worthy of inestimable dignity. As such, students and faculty are expected to express charity in word and deed, ministering to the Lord present in each other. Incarnating the generous love of Christ, who commands us to love our neighbours as ourselves, we hope to cultivate compassion toward the human family at large. “Love is the fulfillment of all our work…” -St. Augustine.
“To learn...to love...to serve.”
“What good is it, my friends, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14) By their baptism, all are called to exercise their faith for and with those who surround them. Faith is expressed in liturgy and also in works. Through their witness to Christian values, all members will be to those around them a light, a ray of hope and a fount of love. We will offer our students and staff the opportunity to exercise their faith in concrete forms such as the ministries of music, art, help to families, to the sick and the elderly, liturgy/chapel and catechesis, to name a few. We will be to the surrounding community a source of support and a model of Christian living not so much by who we say we are, but by who we really are.
Community is founded upon a shared pursuit of a common good. A Catholic community is united by its desire to give glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is built on the person of Jesus Christ, imbued with His Holy Spirit, and nourished by the sacramental life of the Church. As a Catholic academic community, we pursue a deeper knowledge of the truth, both natural and revealed, and we provide an atmosphere animated with love and reverence for God and others. This entails conforming ourselves daily to the image of Christ and recognizing His Kingship in every activity. United in our mission of mutual sanctification, we are to see the face of Christ in each member, being mindful of our responsibility to serve one another, the community at large, and the Mystical Body of Christ.
An academic community naturally serves freedom, the ability to pursue the good, by removing ignorance. Ignorance of the good and the proper means of pursuing the good is a greater constraint upon an individual than anything that might be imposed from without.
The removal of external constraints to the pursuit of the good is also of value. We seek to ensure that our community does not impose undue impediments, such as intellectual, moral, or financial ones, upon its students and staff in their pursuit of what is truly good, but always encourages them along the path of true freedom.
Our community, apart from its academic aspects, promotes freedom by encouraging a desire for what is truly good, and opportunities to seek true goods. This internal desire for the good, coupled with a knowledge of the good, results in individuals who are truly free.
Justice is the rendering to each what he is owed. As all that we have is from God, justice toward God demands a continual striving to live in accordance with the Divine order. Justice toward our fellow creatures involves giving to those to whom we owe what we owe at the appropriate time. Justice toward God, however, demands a more generous approach toward one’s fellow man: while delivering what one owes from a human perspective, one must also ask if one may advance God’s order by giving more, and so, gradually, lay down one’s life for one’s friend.
We are committed to treating all people according to their inherent dignity, giving them their due, and in turn expect them to deliver good and honest work. We are also committed to providing a sound philosophical and theological formation, which, along with the experience of an authentic Catholic culture, facilitates justice through a recognition of gifts, limitations, obligations, and opportunities to serve God, Who has entrusted to us the stewardship of creation.
In light of Saint Paul's admonition "to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received" (Eph. 4:1), we will integrate what we believe and teach into our daily lives. We will maintain the integrity of our curriculum in both what is taught and how it is taught, and foster a truly Catholic culture in our community. For individuals, staff and students, we will confirm in all ways the mission to live fully our baptismal vocation.
Our students will be nourished in a thriving Roman Catholic culture to transform the world through the “charism of intellectual charity” (Pope Benedict XVI, “Address to the Bishops of Ontario, September 8, 2006).
Culture, meaning both learning from and immersion in the traditions of our Catholic heritage, will be integrated into the harmony of the liturgical year by whatever means are available.
While we will experience the treasures of two thousand years of Christianity, we will also witness to contemporary society our commitment to the Culture of Life and the fullness of joy that the Truth gives to us. We will be prepared by both the living teaching of modern encyclicals and the example of all those who strive to incarnate the life of the Gospels and the teachings of the Church.
Members of our community will be invited to participate in a variety of activities beyond their academic pursuits, which will contribute to the growth of the whole person.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, a Catholic institution that is faithful to Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the teachings of the Catholic Church, provides a post-secondary education in the liberal arts. We seek to form the whole person, especially intellectually and spiritually, while respecting the freedom of the individual. Our curriculum offers a deep and wide-ranging understanding of Western civilization along with the traditions of the Church, and equips students to engage with and critique contemporary culture.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy
P.O. Box 249
18 Karol Wojtyla Square
Barry's Bay ON K0J 1B0
| Phone: 613-756-3082 | Toll Free 1-877-369-6520 | Fax 613-756-4077