Saturday, May 28, 2016

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Quick Facts

Students: 108
Location: Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada
Year Founded: 2000
Undergraduate Majors: 1
Med. SAT: n/a
% Catholic: 100%
Med. H.S. GPA:
How Much? $9,060.94 USD
tuition, room and board
For admitted & enrolled traditional undergrads.
Most up-to-date information from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom


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Phone: 1877-369-6520, ext. 202  Address: Box 249, 18 Karol Wojtyla Square, Barry's Bay, Ontario, K0J 1B0, Canada

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President's Letter
Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

We have three main goals: to be authentically Catholic; to be academically excellent; and to be affordable.

Every year all of our faculty voluntarily take an oath of fidelity to the Magisterium and this unswerving commitment to the faith pervades all of our courses. It does not end at the classroom door: there are rich spiritual opportunities for students and we see the development in our students of an adult faith as a major part of our mission.

OLSW has developed an outstanding educational program in the Catholic liberal arts tradition, with an emphasis on Thomistic philosophy and theology at the heart of our integrated curriculum.  Our professors are an exceptional group, devoted to their work and setting high standards for our students. Our graduates have completed their degrees at a number of other institutions, which have readily accepted our credits. Many have gone on to graduate school and to professions, well equipped for further study by our demanding liberal arts program.

We are very conscious of the struggle faced by many faithful Catholic families to find a post-secondary institution which is truly Catholic and yet within their reach. We keep our costs as low as possible, and with a total cost for tuition, room and board and other fees of around $12,000 (Canadian) for 2016-2017, we believe that we are the best bargain in North America.

In meeting our three goals we do not neglect something else: this is a joyful place, with a fun-filled and dynamic student body. Set in an area of lakes, forests and rolling hills, we are surrounded by beauty. Intellectual and spiritual growth is facilitated by this calm and uplifting atmosphere.

Our students come to us from across Canada and the United States and form friendships that will last a lifetime. Please take the time to find out more about us – this may be the place where you are intended to be.

Yours in Christ

Dr. Keith Cassidy


Information from Career Services
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom recognizes the importance of assisting students to maximize their God-given potential, helping them to integrate the strong liberal arts foundation that they receive in support of a career path. Many employers and administrators find the critical thinking and writing skills taught through a liberal arts education very important in the hiring of employees or in acceptance into graduate programs.  To date, our students have gone on to be successful in a large number of professions and have attended prestigious graduate schools in North America and overseas. They have built on the skills they have learned at OLSW to pursue careers in law, teaching, health care and trades. A number of our alumni have entered religious life and the seminary. Some students have had summer internships on Parliament Hill (Canada’s Parliament) and with bioethical institutes. The career choices of our graduates are as varied as the individual differences in student interests and talents.To aid our students in finding their path in life, Student Services makes available Vocational Testing and Career Guidance counseling. Working one-on-one with the Director of Student Services, a student can explore options best suited to them and choose courses based on the outcome of testing to help prepare them for success on their chosen career path. As well, there are workshops in both the Fall and Winter semesters instructing students how to prepare resumes. In addition, an alumni mentorship program is being developed through OLSW’s newly formed Alumni Association.


Information from Financial Aid Office
OLSW's already affordable tuition and fees—roughly one-fifth to one-third of the cost of most U.S. Catholic colleges—are supplemented by scholarships, bursaries (grants) and work-study positions.

There are a variety of scholarships and bursaries for entering and returning students. There are specific scholarships for students entering each of the three years, and for specific areas of academic achievement, pro-life work, and music.

There are several bursaries for students in financial need including named and endowed bursaries, as well as regional bursaries for students from different areas of Canada and the United States.

Also, the Board has made available a substantial sum of money for additional bursaries as needed.

In addition, there are work study positions available for students in financial need.  These entail up to 8 hours a week for students in the areas of kitchen work, development, library work,administration and maintenance.  Several residence assistants and proctors will be employed by OLSW as well.

In general, OLSW provides one of the most inexpensive ways of obtaining a high-quality, faithfully Catholic liberal arts education.


Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is faithfully Catholic, offers a strong liberal arts curriculum, and is surprisingly affordable for American students who take advantage of its one-, two- or three-year programs and go on to receive their degree at one of the partnering Newman Guide colleges.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, which grew out of a dream of homeschooling families for faithful and affordable Catholic higher education in Ontario, hopes soon to offer a three-year degree. OLSW expects to know whether or not it will be approved by the Ontario government soon. 

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom has four academic and administrative buildings, located immediately adjacent to St. Hedwig’s Parish, which overlooks a scenic lake. It also uses parish space for dining and for an extra classroom. Students live together in small households in three purpose-built residences and in other leased residences in the local community.

With current enrollment at 108 students, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom’s goal is to have as many as 200 students. More than one-third of the students have been homeschooled, and about 16 percent are American.

Students can earn a Basic Certificate after one year of study, and an Associate Certificate after two years. At the end of three years, students may earn a general Certificate of Christian Humanities or one with a concentration in philosophy, theology, history, or literature.

A 15-member board of directors governs Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, assisted by an academic senate. The episcopal advisory board includes Thomas Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., of Vancouver, and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., of Ottawa. Dr. Keith Cassidy, the president, is an historian who has taught at several Canadian universities and has written on several aspects of American history, most notably about the pro-life movement.

The very low cost is appealing. Tuition, room and board in 2014-15 cost students C$11,250, or about $10,300 USD. That can be further reduced by scholarships, “bursaries” (grants), and work-study opportunities.


In the first year, students take courses in Christian doctrine, Scripture, Western civilization, philosophy, essay writing, Classical literature, Latin and chorus. Upper-year students take a combination of electives and additional foundational courses, including Ethics, Survey of Literature, Shapers of Modern Thought, Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas, Introduction to Fine Arts, and Magisterial Thought, as well as introductions to lab sciences and mathematics.

Students may concentrate in any of four areas: literature, history, philosophy, and theology.

Catholic novelist and artist Michael D. O’Brien and his wife Sheila helped found OLSW. O'Brien serves as its artist- and writer-in-residence.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom has had its credits accepted by Christendom College, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ave Maria University, Northeast Catholic College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, and Campion College in Australia. OLSWA credits have also been accepted by colleges not in The Newman Guide, including Holy Cross College in Indiana, Redeemer University College in Hamilton, Ontario, and Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto. The latter two are nondenominational Christian colleges.

All full-time and part-time faculty members are faithful Catholics.

Spiritual Life

Students are spiritually active at the vibrant St. Hedwig Church and in prayer on campus. Many students attend one of the two daily Masses at the parish, and serve as readers, altar servers, and choir members. Many participate in Eucharistic Adoration. Another Catholic parish is nearby, offering additional daily Mass times.

A weekly formal Academy Mass is celebrated by the OLSW chaplains, with music provided by the OLSW choir. There also are two Sunday Masses, one Saturday Vigil Mass, and The Extraordinary Form is also provided at least once a month. Confession is available weekly at St. Hedwig and on campus.

Students are invited to join in a daily Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy. An annual Consecration to Jesus through Mary is made every fall. There are men’s and women’s retreats each year, two pilgrimages, a Christian formation speaker series, and an annual Day of Recollection held early in the fall for the entire OLSW community. Some students have started an evangelization outreach and many enjoy Praise and Worship sessions.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom’s chaplain is Fr. Zachary Romanowsky, a member of the nearby Madonna House Apostolate, who is assisted by Fr. Joseph Hattie, O.M.I. Students have the opportunity to meet with these priests throughout the week for spiritual direction, counseling and confession.

Residential Life

On-campus students live in single-sex residence houses. Each house has six to 15 students along with one residence assistant and a proctor, who are upper-class students. Meals are provided at St. Hedwig’s parish hall.

The households are an important part of the student life program. The houses have monthly house nights and regular prayer time interwoven into their daily lives.

Chastity is fostered, and there are clear guidelines regarding times for opposite-sex visitations in the houses. Intervisitation in the bedrooms is always forbidden. “Modest” dress is always expected on campus, and a professional dress code applies for classes.

All students are assigned regular chores for three to four hours a week. These include helping with the dinner dishes, sweeping the floors, and cleaning classrooms and common areas.

St. Francis Memorial Hospital is located in the town. There are no significant airports nearby; Americans are likely to use Ottawa International Airport, a two and one-half-hour drive away, or Toronto Pearson International Airport,  which is four hours away. Route 17, known as the Trans-Canada Highway, is an hour’s drive from the town.

Student Activities

Campus clubs include the Don Bosco Drama Club, the Frassati Outdoors Club, Dance Club (swing), Praise and Worship Club, and the Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu Pro-Life Club, named in memory of two students.

Every year a large number of musically talented students come to campus. There are frequent informal musical events, as well as organized activities such as Schola, which includes members of the wider community.

Students elect a Student Activities Council every year to plan social events such as the Winter Formal and other dances, movie nights, and field trips. New organizations form each year based on interest, and many informal social activities are student-initiated.

A few times a week there are spontaneous sporting activities. Every week there is a regular sports night at a local gym (which includes soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and weight lifting), followed by a hockey game at the local arena.

The Bottom Line

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is an affordable yet high-quality option for faithful Catholics. This small institution, committed to its motto of Veritas vos Liberabit (“The Truth will set you free”), provides a wonderful curriculum at a very low cost.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom can help students get acclimated to college life and strengthen their faith before moving on to another solid Catholic college to finish their studies, but we hope Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is soon recognized as a full college, able to award bachelor’s degrees. The promise of this institution is enhanced by the beauty of studying in scenic rural Ontario. It’s an option worth serious consideration.
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