Serra House Pre-Theology Residence is a house of formation operated by St. Augustine’s Seminary of Toronto, originally for those belonging to the Toronto Archdiocese, but recently opened up for other dioceses. Serra House opened in the fall of 1983 as a “house of discernment” for men discerning a call to diocesan priesthood and completing studies in philosophy in preparation for applying to St. Augustine’s Seminary. It was founded by Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, and by Fr. Sean O’Sullivan, then Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Toronto. The Serra Clubs of Toronto were patrons of the house and its renovation. In 2015, reflecting the new vision for Serra House, it was formally recognized by the Board of Governors as part of St. Augustine’s Seminary.
The Rector of St. Augustine’s Seminary and Serra House, is Reverend Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, who visits for weekly liturgy and monthly Colloquia. The Director is Fr. Fred Chung, who resides at Serra House, oversees the pre-theology in-house formation program. He is assisted by the House Formator.
A domestic scale and proximity to the downtown campuses of various universities allow for a unique opportunity of the intellectual, social, and cultural formation. Recognizing that this represents the first experience of communal life for some, a key priority of Serra House is in the area of human formation: basic life skills of social interaction, discipline, responsibility, and balance (including physical exercise and recreation).
The spiritual formation includes a schedule that allows space for personal meditation as well as common liturgies. The typical day consists of morning Adoration, Mass, Holy Hour with Evening Prayer, and Compline. During special liturgical seasons and key moments in the annual calendar, seminarians participate in Recollection Weekends and Silent Retreats. Bi-weekly spiritual direction is the norm throughout the formational year, as well as periodic meetings with the Formators.
The Pastoral formation consists of sending out seminarians on Sundays in groups of two’s and three’s to various selected parishes and their pastors, typically for two Masses, where they minister as altar servers, lectors, assistant of catechists, or ministers of hospitality. Seminarians build up fraternal bonds travelling to and from parishes, and they encounter the people of God they aspire to serve someday.
The mission of Serra House is to provide a formative environment as seminarians initiate their philosophical preparation for theology. The objective is to help residents grow in the areas of human and spiritual formation. It is a house of prayer and study where seminarians can practice the spirit of fraternity, sacrificial love, and joy in community living and parish outreach.