10 Things to Know About St. Joseph’s College
By Rielle Gagnon & Mathew Gorman
Have you ever wondered what the charming brick building on the south side of the bus loop contains? Maybe you’ve heard it’s a massive frat house, or a place where lots of priests live (neither is true). Or maybe you know that it’s a residence, but you’re wondering what sorts of people live there. The building we’re referring to is St. Joseph’s College (SJC), and directly to its south is its relatively new counterpart, St. Joseph’s College Women’s Residence, commonly referred to as “Kateri House”.
As two former residents who lived at SJC for the duration of our undergraduate degrees, we have had the opportunity to experience much of what SJC is all about. SJC has much to offer not only the people who live there, but to all U of A students and the wider community.
It’s not uncommon to meet people at SJC — in the chapel at a weekend mass, at a community event, or even wandering through the study lounge — who will tell you fond stories of meeting their best friends or significant other at some point in the college’s history. While thousands of people have formed some of their best university memories at SJC (us included!), there are many others who have questions or misconceptions about it, so we thought we’d try to debunk some of those myths and tell you how you too can start making memories at SJC.
Who lives in the residences?
SJC is home to a dorm-style men’s residence, which is located in the main SJC building, and an apartment-style women’s residence, which first existed in a stairwell that SJC rented in HUB Mall and was home to 14 women. The new women’s residence building opened in 2015 and has room for 284 women. Although living in the residences is not the only way to be involved in the SJC community, it is a very common starting point for students’ involvement. All students taking classes at the UofA are eligible to live at SJC, including first-year students, international students, and graduate students.
Do I have to be Catholic to live in the residences or be involved in the SJC community?
No. Many residents are not Catholic. There are residents who identify as a different Christian denominations, Jewish, Muslim, and many other faith traditions. There are also students who do not associate themselves with any religion. The whole point of St. Joe’s is to foster a community that welcomes everyone. This is a huge part of what makes St. Joe’s feel like a family. You are welcome just as you are.
What makes SJC different from any other residence on campus?
What sets SJC’s residences apart from other residences on campus is its tight knit community. When asked to describe SJC in one word, many residents choose the word “family.”. Staff, alumni, and residents are all welcomed into a community of individuals of different academic and faith backgrounds, from across Canada and the world, and all belong together in the SJC community. Even after moving out, alumni still feel very at home at SJC, and many remain highly involved in the SJC community. It is common for SJC residents stay for more than one year, and many live in the residences for their whole degree.
I’m worried about making friends at U of A. Can SJC help with that?
Mathew: This is an easy one to answer. After moving to U of A from a small town in Alberta, I had only two friends who were living in Edmonton at the time. I was anxious to meet new people and make friends in a new city. I was pretty sure the last time I had to make a bunch of new friends was when I started kindergarten, and I didn’t think the same strategies I employed as a five year old would translate well to university students.
But when I started moving into St. Joe’s, I immediately had not just friends, but a family of 60 other guys. This was the best part of Joe’s for me. And whether you’re living in the men’s or women’s residence, you’ll find lifelong friends across the hall.
Rielle: Living with 283 other women is an experience that you won’t get in many places, and I can tell you that it’s one I am forever grateful for. I met some of my best friends at SJC, whether it was at CSA (Catholic Students’ Association) events, being on the CSA exec or women’s House Committee, at residence events, or hanging out in the study lounge. Most of my best university memories are from times spent bonding with my roommates, the other Kateri girls, and Joe’s guys in the residences.
And, as we mentioned above, if you are not living in residence, there are SO many opportunities to get involved with the college through activities, classes, food, and volunteering. You are bound to make friends and meet incredible people at a place that continuously encourages community building.
What kinds of activities are available for residents?
There are countless activities available to residents of the college. Both the men’s and women’s residences have dedicated teams of residents that serve as student leaders who plan social events, organize intramurals, and generally strive to build community and college social life.
Part of living at St. Joe’s is partaking in intramural sports. You don’t have to be an all-star to join a team. Heck, you don’t even have to have played a single sport in your life. If you want to play any sport that intramurals has to offer, you can sign up and join fellow residents who just want to have fun. This was and remains to be one of the best ways to meet new people. Bonding over being terrible at inner-tube water polo is something you don’t want to miss.
Besides intramurals, the student leaders and other residents put on numerous events including reverse-hide-and-seek throughout campus (Sardines), theme parties, wine and paint nights, potlucks, board game nights, crib tournaments, pottery painting, LAN parties, movie nights, ice-cream nights, and much more.
How can I get involved in the SJC community even if I’m not a resident?
The Catholic Students’ Association puts on a lot of events for residents and the general public. These include gingerbread decorating competitions, tacos and trivia, ice skating, formal dances, chili nights, and movie nights! There are also many small groups at SJC that anyone is welcome to join. These are groups that put on weekly or monthly gatherings for whatever the interest is of that particular group (book studies, Bible studies, creativity workshops, volunteer opportunities to help the less fortunate, socializing at pubs, praise and worship, etc.).
Campus Ministry also puts on wonderful events like Alpha, retreats, and “Soup’s on Us” (free soup for students every second Wednesday in the student lounge).
If you are interested in attending any of these groups, you can email email@example.com to get more information or sign up for the CSA’s weekly email list.
You can also attend mass at SJC alongside community members, faculty, and many other students! Student mass is on Sundays at 7 pm.
Is there anywhere to study at SJC?
Yes! St. Joseph’s College has a beautiful library, and many consider it to be a hidden gem on campus. You can study in the sunshine at a table next to the window on the upper floor, or in an armchair if you’re looking for a more laid back library experience. The SJC library is also part of the NEOS system that the rest of U of A belongs to. If you reserve a library book online from any library on campus, you can get it sent to the SJC library for pick-up, and you can also return books from any library on campus to the SJC library.
SJC also has a study lounge on the main floor that is open to anyone. This lounge has many tables and plenty of study space, and is great for productive studying later in the evenings, in the morning, and on weekends. In the afternoon, this study lounge can often be found bustling with residents and other students who stop by to hang out and chat between classes, so it might not be your best bet if you need to really crack down on your studying, but it does make for great socializing!
If it’s a college, can I take classes there?
Yes! St. Joseph’s College offers U of A arts electives that are for credit and open to any U of A student. This is where you will find the course you didn’t know you needed to take: Sport and Religion, Catholicism and Pop Culture, Sex, Love, and Marriage, Bioethical Issues, and Harry Potter & Christian Spirituality, to name a few. You can find SJC courses on Bear Tracks under the course code “CHRTC”.
Another bonus of taking classes at SJC is that the class sizes are rather small (usually 10–30 people), and the profs are amazing teachers who really take the time to get to know you.
SJC also offers amazing international service learning courses, where you can complete a U of A course for credit in another country! Past courses have travelled to places such as Guatemala, Colombia, and Bethlehem.
I’m getting tired of fast food on campus…can SJC help me with that?
Oh let me tell you, if food is what you want, Joe’s has you covered. There is a kitchen and dining hall located in the basement of Joe’s with an incredible cooking staff that works 7 days a week. If you’re on a meal plan this means that all your meals AND dishes are done for you. All you have to do is show up and eat (and socialize as much as your heart desires)!
For anyone else not living in St. Joe’s residence, you can take advantage of the delicious meals (served buffet style) for really reasonable prices. A hot breakfast is $7, lunch is $12, and dinner is $13.50.
There is also free soup for U of A students every second Wednesday put on by Campus Ministry at the college. They even have gluten-free options!
What other services/resources are available at SJC?
There are many resources available to students and community members at SJC. The chapel is open to the public during building hours, and the beautiful stained-glass windows make it the perfect place to spend a few moments alone and clear your mind.
There are also two amazing campus ministers and a spiritual director who work at SJC who are available for pastoral counselling, which basically means that if you need a kind, non-judgmental, trustworthy person to talk to, they’ve got you covered.
St. Joseph’s College has been a home-away-from-home for both of us, and even though we have both moved off campus now, we continue to make new friends and memories in the SJC community. We hope you make the most of all this community has to offer and that you can see for yourself all of the things that are to love about St. Joseph’s College.
Photos courtesy of St. Joseph’s College.
Mathew is a first year med student who did his undergrad in immunology at U of A. He
has played soccer since he was four years old and loves music. A fun fact about
Mathew is that he spent 13 years singing in a boys’ choir!
Rielle is in her first year of law school. She previously completed a bachelor of science
in psychology at the U of A and conducted research on working memory structure in musicians and non-musicians. When she‘s not studying, Rielle loves taking dance classes, reading, and spending time at the lake.
Rielle and Mat are also big Harry Potter fans.