Redeemer Pacific College is a one-of-a-kind Catholic college embedded within Trinity Western University (TWU), an evangelical Christian institution that offers undergraduate degrees in 45 majors.
Located less than a half hour north of the American border in British Columbia, the University draws about 21 percent of its 2,700 undergraduates from the United States. Aside from the expected theological differences, Catholic families will be pleased with the emphasis of Trinity Western on authentic Christian identity and students’ moral development.
The embedded Redeemer Pacific College (RPC), founded in 1999, offers more than 25 courses in Catholic studies for about 120 students dually enrolled at the College and University. The College building includes a classroom, faculty offices, student lounge, supplemental library, and chapel.
RPC does not offer its own degree, but courses can be applied to a TWU degree. The College does offer three certificates—liberal arts, theology and education—and its courses can be used to satisfy a Catholic studies minor through the University’s religious studies department.
The College’s nine-member board of governors includes Father John McCarthy, representative for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Reflecting RPC’s “associate college” partnership with the Franciscan University of Steubenville, one FUS faculty member, Dr. Andrew Minto, serves on the College’s board of governors.
RPC’s president is Dr. Christine Jones, who earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from McGill University and a Canada-Research Chair post-doctorate in religion and culture from the University of British Columbia. New additions to the faculty include theologian Dr. Christophe Potworowski, the former chair of Catholic studies at McGill, and Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P., who is completing a doctoral degree in theology at Rome’s Angelicum.
Depending on the exchange rate with Canada, RPC’s price can be very attractive to Americans. Total tuition, room, and board in 2012-13 was C$24,920 as of September 2012. Students in their freshman year receive a $750 discount for each RPC course that they take, up to 8 courses, and a $400 discount in subsequent years. Vancouver’s Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., former secretary to the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, recently provided the College an endowed scholarship fund, and two other scholarships are available to students. Other financial aid is available.
Students can take four RPC courses each semester of the freshman year to meet the core requirements for a TWU degree. These courses emphasize “the Catholic heritage of faith and culture.”
To qualify for a minor in Catholic studies, students need to take 24 credits in religious studies courses such as those on the Old and New Testament, Catholic spirituality, and Theology of the Body, as well as philosophy courses, including those on St. Thomas Aquinas. The College consults with Franciscan University on the Catholic content of its courses.
The Catholic Teacher Education Program teaches Catholic perspectives on the philosophy and practice of education, as part of the Bachelor of Education program at TWU.
Beyond the Catholic formation provided by Redeemer Pacific College, students complete their studies in TWU courses. TWU offers a wide range of majors in schools of the humanities and social sciences, natural and applied sciences, professional studies and performing arts, business, education and human kinetics (focused on physical fitness and coaching). The University has a semester-long program at its Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa for students studying Canadian government, and a variety of study abroad programs.
All RPC professors make an annual oath of loyalty to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Three of the five faculty members teach theology, and they have the mandatum.
Redeemer Pacific has a chaplain who offers Mass from Monday to Thursday, hears confession, and gives spiritual guidance. Adoration and Benediction take place on Wednesdays. Masses are also available at two area parishes. Students attend retreats each semester at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, British Columbia.
TWU has a nondenominational chapel and active Christian ministry, including a variety of guest speakers and musicians.
RPC students live in the larger University’s housing. Fewer than a third of TWU students (about 850) live on campus, although the university encourages it. One residence hall is set aside for first- and second-year female students; the remaining halls are co-ed, with men and women separated by floor or in suites with separate bathrooms.
Policies are consistent with Catholic moral teachings. TWU requires all students to sign a statement pledging to forego premarital sex, alcohol, and other detriments to academic and spiritual life.
The nearby town of Langley, with a population of 115,000, is less than one hour from the city of Vancouver and about 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Among sites of local interest are the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation, Fort Langley National Historical Site, and the Langley Centennial Museum.
Major roads connect Langley with Vancouver, and the Vancouver International Airport is a large and modern facility.
RPC has a newly-formed Student Association which organizes many social events for students, including Bowling with the Profs, Thanksgiving and Advent dinners. Overall, there is an attempt made to foster a sense of community for the RPC students as a supplement to student activities at Trinity Western.
Students are also able to participate in university-wide activities, including a variety of clubs that are mostly related to academic disciplines, student government, and campus media. The Spartans field men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams. There are also the typical diversions such as those reflected in Theatre at TWU, Jazz Night, and intramural sports.
The campus is set in the shadow of the North Shore Mountains, offering opportunities for skiing and hiking. The 157-acre campus includes 60 acres of protected natural forest and a lake circled by hiking trails.
The Bottom Line
Redeemer Pacific College is guided by dedicated Catholics who seek to provide intellectual ballast to young men and women who want to live and share their faith in the world. It certainly helps that they draw inspiration and advice from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
The location within a larger Christian university is not a problem, and in fact ensures a morally appropriate campus life that is hard to find at most Catholic universities. Catholic students should be secure in their faith and prepared to address theological differences.
The personal attention that RPC students receive is uncommon and refreshing. For all these reasons, Redeemer Pacific College is yet another affordable and attractive option for Americans seeking a solid Catholic education.