Lawsuit Filed to Save Authentically Catholic Canadian College

News: World News
by Anita Carey  •  •  September 26, 2019   

Advisor to the board concerned archbishop wants control of the assets

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LANGLEY, British Columbia ( - A Canadian man is taking the fight with his bishop to the highest court in Canada to keep an authentically Catholic college alive.

Concerned that the archdiocese of Vancouver is trying to wrest control of the Catholic Pacific College in Langley, British Columbia, away from the governors' board, Regent Hugh Buckley filed a petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Church Militant was contacted by Buckley, who provided his legal challenge against Catholic Pacific College. Buckley is asserting that Abp. J. Michael Miller, the ordinary of the archdiocese of Vancouver, is attempting to shut down the college and put the college's assets in the archdiocese's pockets.

Buckley provided four affidavits for the legal challenge and explained in one that he was told, "[It] was archdiocesan policy that Redeemer Pacific College should be closed down and the property be used as a residence for Catholic students attending Trinity Western University."

The archdiocese refused to provide him with documentation of the policy, claiming it was "confidential."

Catholic Pacific course listing

Catholic Pacific College, formerly Redeemer Pacific College, was founded in 1999 and is a college within Trinity Western University that allows students to pursue a theological studies minor while also working towards an undergraduate degree.

Students are afforded the opportunity on campus to attend Mass five days a week, confession and spiritual direction.

The Cardinal Newman Society lists Catholic Pacific as one of only two authentically Catholic colleges in Canada. According to the Newman Guide, "Catholic Pacific College's partnership with a larger Christian university ensures a morally appropriate campus life that is hard to find at most Catholic universities."

The other Catholic college nearby, Corpus Christi College in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a two-year liberal arts college that has similar course offerings to secular liberal arts colleges, such as Celtic mythology, film history and two Islamic history courses.

The course offerings at Corpus Christi focus on "Social Justice and Peace Studies" with courses on "selected major themes in Catholic Thought," modern Catholic social teaching and learning "the realities of injustice" and "strategies for social change."

One course, "Human Rights Violations: Voices from the Margins," provides students with first-hand literary accounts that are used to present a view "from the inside."

Catholic Pacific College is privately funded and managed by the Catholic Pacific College Society, formerly Redeemer Pacific College Society, that is comprised of 10 board of governors members advised by a group of regents. From 2005 to 2011, Buckley served on the board of governors, and from 2011 until now, Buckley has served as a regent.

Buckley claims since he has been a regent, he and other members have been shut out of board meetings and prevented from knowing what is going on with the college.

Buckley claims he was never provided with notices of upcoming board meetings and has a witness to prove it.

Included in Buckley's documents is a notarized statement from Catholic Pacific College President Christine Jones dated Aug. 31, 2018.

In it, she testified: "[F]rom 2011 onwards I regularly attended meetings of the board and that successive Secretaries of the Board of Governors did not, to the best of my knowledge ... provide due notification to the college's membership concerning all board meetings."

Buckley believes he and other members were shut out so that the archdiocese of Vancouver could assume control.

According to the Society's bylaws of 2003, governance of the college was to remain "solely within the college and the Societies Act of B.C." In 2015, after Abp. Miller joined the board of governors, the bylaws were rewritten.

Under the current situation, the assets would most likely go to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

"It is my opinion that the bylaws of 2015 were designed to relax such control and thereby permitted the control to come under the authority of the archdiocese," Buckley said.

Buckley also asserts that four of the current governors are "members of the archdiocese bureaucracy." One of them, Michel Gloanec, the vice-chair of the board, is also the director of evangelization and catechesis for the archdiocese.

Buckley claims there have been at least three attempts to shut down Catholic Pacific College over the years. He claims recently courses have been cut from the offerings and they have stopped running major fundraisers.

"The constitution of [Catholic Pacific College] determines that should the society wind up, the assets go to a charity approved by the members," Buckley stated in his affidavit. "My opinion is that under the current situation the assets would most likely go to the Archdiocese of Vancouver."

He started the legal petition, not to get his donations back, but to keep it out of the archdiocese's pocket. Over the years, Buckley, a successful engineer, donated almost $500,000 to Catholic Pacific College.

"Should, in spite of my efforts, the college be closed; that the court rules that my donation go to a charity other than the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver," he said.

In 2018, Catholic Pacific College Society had revenues of about $1.2 million and had assets topping $625,000.

First filed in 2018, the petition has been repeatedly adjourned due to the college governance's lack of preparation for the hearings.

Church Militant reached out to the archdiocese of Vancouver but has not heard back by press time.

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