According to the minutes of the Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg, at a parish meeting on July 5, 1927, Bishop Arseny proposed the establishment of a theological school at the Sobor. The school, unfortunately, was short-lived.
Over 74 years later (August 4, 2001), an informal discussion at a reception for Fr. Stacey Richter (a recently-ordained priest) raised the issue of the need for a theological school in Canada. Out of that discussion came a proposal to the Archdiocesan Council of Canada at its meeting in Winnipeg on October 27, 2001, for the establishment of a theological institute at Holy Trinity Sobor.
On October 3, 2002, His Grace Bishop Seraphim sent a letter to the acting director of the institute, Spencer Estabrooks, stating:
With this letter, I give officially the blessing for the establishment
Acting on this blessing, an administration was created for the Institute as follows: Director – Spencer Estabrooks; Registrar – Father Mirone Klysh; Chaplain – Father Anatoly Melnyk; Treasurer – Protodeacon Raphael Cole; Dean – Father Stephen Kennaugh. Others, including laity, would be added as needed, especially to help with matters such as fund-raising.
At the same time, the academic staff for the first year was established for the Institute with the following members: Spencer Estabrooks, Father Anatoly Melnyk, and Father Mirone Klysh. Following a mailing of information about the Institute to the Clergy of the Archdiocese, the Institute administration received several offers of teaching support from a number of Clergy. This response was most encouraging in that it fulfilled the plans of the Institute that other Clergy and qualified laity would become involved in teaching courses, tutoring, and other tasks on behalf of the Institute in their own areas of the country and under the co-ordination of the Institute. The Institute expected to have a method worked out by the 2004-5 academic year for having some of the Institute’s program conducted in various places across the country.
In the spring of 2003, two pilot courses were offered by the Institute for a period of 10 weeks: (1) the first half of a Reader’s Program and (2) The Shape of the Early Church: 100 – 325 A.D.
In the fall of 2003, the Institute was prepared to fulfill its mandate. In addition to the second half of the Reader’s Program, the following 5 (of 20 one-term courses) were offered:
(1) Church History: The First Eight Centuries;
(2) Liturgics/Liturgical Theology: An Introduction;
(3) Holy Scripture: A Comprehensive Introduction;
(4) The Church Fathers: 2nd to 5th Centuries; and
(5) Orthodox Ethics/Spirituality.
The lecture courses began on September 8, 2003.
The cost of each credit course was set at $150.00 or $50.00 to audit, plus a registration fee of $10.00. An added fee of $25.00 was attached to correspondence courses. Cost of the Reader’s Program was set at $75.00 per term. Students could study part-time or full-time for the deaconate or for a Certificate in Theology. They could also take individual courses out of interest. A series of special lectures, workshops, panels, tours, retreats, etc. of interest to the general public were also to be planned as part of the Institute’s activities.