Wednesday, November 25, 2015. 3:15 - 4:30 pm

Play, Symbol & Festival
in Worship Design

by  David H. Pereyra, MArch, MA, PhD. OCAD University & St Michael’s College University

The German philosopher, Hans-Georg Gadamer throughout his work asserts, “The experience of the beautiful in art is a form of knowing.” To confirm this argument, he works on three basic concepts of his philosophical aesthetics: “play,” “symbol,” and “festival.” In this presentation Pereyra will explore the application of those concepts to the design of Christian churches. Sacred spaces are capable of moving and transforming us because of their particular language of beauty. He will argue that by designing a sacred space with Gadamer’s concepts of play, symbol, and festival in mind, we can enhance our knowledge of beauty through the art of liturgical design. He will explain Gadamer’s three concepts, describe how they can applied to the design of Christian churches, and consider their potential effects. The reality of beauty, as a transcendental quality of being, invites one to enter the world of contemplation wherein beauty gives herself freely and without personal regard. The beauty of the liturgy and the place where it is celebrated must converge in an experience that transforms worship space into Sacred Space.

David H. Pereyra is a seasonal professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of St Michael’s College in Toronto, and the coordinator of the Liturgy Seminar, at the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. He has a degree as an architect at the University of Buenos Aires, a Master in Arts in Theology, and a degree of Doctor in Philosophy of Theology, both at the University of St Michael’s College. For several years he has been a lecturer of Church Design at the Catholic University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has presented his work in international conferences in Argentina, Austria, Belgium and United States. Right now, he works at the Inclusive Design Research Centre, at Ontario College of Art University in Toronto (OCAD U). His research examines inclusivity and accessibility throughout welcoming space.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015. 4:15 - 5:30 pm

Music, servant of text? Liturgical deliberations at Vatican II

by Dr Michael O’Connor. Senior Lecturer. St. Michael’s College University

Michael O’Connor is a Senior Lecturer at the University of St. Michael’s College. His areas of expertise include Cajetan, music and liturgy. Dr. O’Connor’s academic scholarship and practical music-making overlap in the theory and practice of liturgical music.  He has recently published, "The Liturgical Use of the Organ in the Sixteenth Century: the Judgments of Cajetan and the Dominican Order" and has a monograph due out next year on Cajetan's biblical exegesis. In addition to teaching in the college undergraduate programs at St. Michael’s he runs a weekly Singing Club on campus and directs the USMC Schola Cantorum. Dr. O’Connor is a board member of the Royal School of Church Music Canada.

In the context of Christian worship, music is often said to be a "servant of the text" (or a "servant of the rite"). This is found across denominations and centuries -- e.g., among Calvinist reformers and twentieth century popes. This presentation will first of all consider the implications of this assertion and then the surprising decision, at the Second Vatican Council, to omit it from the Constitution on the Liturgy. The presentation will conclude with some reflections on the consequences of this decision, which remain to be worked out in practice.

Friday, March 20, 2015. 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Grace Art Glass Treasures of Toronto: a FREE tour of art glass 

Led by Sarah Hall, RCA

Sarah Hall was born in Dundas, Ontario, Canada in 1951.  She studied in the Architectural Glass Department at Swansea College of Art in Wales, UK and followed this with an internship with Lawrence Lee, master at the Royal College of Art in London.  After completing studies in the U.K., Sarah spent a year in Jerusalem studying Middle Eastern techniques in glass. Her work has received numerous awards for outstanding liturgical art. The American Institute of Architects has awarded Sarah several ‘Honor Awards’ in light of her challenging and creative installations within contemporary church architecture.
In 2002, Sarah was elected into membership of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.  Her exceptional contribution to the built environment was honored in 1997 by the Ontario Association of Architects “Allied Arts Award.” In 2005, Sarah received a Chalmers Arts Fellowship to research and integrate photovoltaic technology (solar energy collection cells) into her art glass installations. This unique fusion of art and technology is the first of its’ kind in North America.Sarah has established her studio in Toronto and keeps a busy schedule with lectures, exhibitions and projects which span a wide range of communities and architectural settings.

  • 9:30 am: presentation by Sarah Hall (Emmanuel College, room 302) 
  • 10:30 am: walk to Massey College 
  • 11:00 am: view and discuss Sarah’s windows at Massey College 
  • 11:45 am: buy your own lunch nearby 
  • 12:30 pm: free transportation to Rosedale United Church 
  • 1:00 pm: view and discuss windows by Sarah and others at Rosedale United  
  • 2:00 pm: presentation by Sarah at Rosedale United 
  • 2:45 pm: free transportation to Sherbourne subway stop

Reserve your spot now (space is limited!) by emailing by Tuesday, March 17, 9:00 am

Wednesday, February 25, 2015. 3:15 - 4:30 pm

The Hegelianized Calvin:
Re-Examining Calvin’s Place in the Separation of Art from Religion

by Dr. Rebekah Smick. Associate Professor of Philosophy of the Arts and Culture
Institute for Christian Studies in the Toronto School of Theology. BA (Brandeis University). MA (Columbia University). PhD (University of Toronto)

Rebekah Smick specializes in pre-Kantian art theory and criticism, in particular the relation of early modern visual arts theory to poetics and rhetoric in the Western tradition. Her research and teaching investigate the aesthetic values of beauty and grace in the early modern period, the link between knowledge and imagination, the aesthetic function of metaphor, and the place of compassion. She is especially interested in delineating the connections made during the early modern period between aesthetics, metaphysics, ethics, and theology. She is author of Antiquity and Its Interpreters (Cambridge UP, 2000) and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà as Image in the Theology and Aesthetics of Compassion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015. 3:15 - 4:30 pm

Grace in a Place

The Sacramental Facilitation of Physical Access for People with Disabilities in Ecclesial Spaces

by Michael Alexander Walker, M.T.S., Th.M. Th.D. Candidate (Knox College)

Christians with disabilities often find ecclesial spaces inhospitable, because such places are created with only normalized body-types in mind. For instance, steps and hard surfaces can hinder or constrain people with mobility issues, while hymnals lack Braille and large print for those who are blind or visually impaired. Nonetheless, as a Christian constructive theologian with cerebral palsy, I assert that these physical conditions can change. Baptism and Holy Communion can facilitate dialogue about physical access to ecclesial spaces for people with disabilities: they allow Christians with various levels of ability, conversing passionately across difference, to explore the capacities of people with disabilities to receive dignity from the spaces that we inhabit, and to give dignity back to our communities using our gifts.
The sacraments can create this space for material access. Because baptism represents human equality in Christ (see Galatians 3:28), it can attest the importance of universal-design principles for church sanctuaries. All people, particularly people with disabilities, possess the right to buildings with ramps, non-slip flooring, and adequate lighting. Furthermore, Holy Communion entails vulnerability to and solidarity with the plight of people who are oppressed, those who suffer unduly in the world. By pointing out the needs of those who hunger or lack clothing or shelter, Communion demands that Christians provide all users of their spaces with satisfactory food, heat, and light. God’s love can flourish in accessible ecclesial spaces where people with and without disabilities can feel communal and transformative acceptance.