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Faculty of Religious Studies

  • Steeped in history

    The Faculty takes pride in calling the William and Henry Birks Building its home. In addition to classrooms, offices, and common rooms, the building also accommodates the Birks Heritage Chapel and Reading Room.

    Read more about our history and home
  • Learn from the best

    McGill’s reputation as a leading centre for religious studies is enhanced by the Faculty’s team of world-class scholars—experts in world religions and cultures and their impact on social, political, educational, and health issues.

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  • Religion and the world

    The Faculty of Religious Studies sponsors numerous special events and public lectures - covering everything from the relationship between faith and society to the questions atheism can't answer.

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  • All are welcome

    McGill's beautiful Birks Chapel is open to all members of the McGill community - regardless of faith. In addition to regular services, the chapel can be booked for weddings, baptisms and memorial services.

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  • Putting it in print

    Every year, the Faculty publishes two Journals - ARC and Canons - showcasing the most compelling and innovative work produced by both staff and students.

    Read the Journals and/or submit a paper!
  • Refuge and resource

    The Birks Reading Room contains over 20,000 monographs, and provides students with a peaceful place to study.

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Dear Friends, Students, Colleagues,

I am writing with a heavy yet grateful heart to let you know that Dean Ellen Aitken, Professor of Early Christian Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, died around midnight on June 13, 2014, at the Jewish General Hospital. Ellen’s passing was peaceful and without pain.

Much of Ellen’s rich scholarship, teaching and research, was given to the great issues of devoted life and death, and sacred memory. Both in her ordained and in her decanal ministry she gave herself in rich service to both Church and Academy.

During these last weeks, as the seriousness of Ellen’s illness gradually became apparent, she and her husband, Bill Porter, have remained wonderfully and generously open to Ellen’s manifold network of professional and spiritual friendships. Despite the pain and uncertainties of illness, Ellen remained astonishingly alive to the great outpouring of love from all of you in her support community. I know that she has used these recent days to savour the love and grace surrounding her. All of us at the Faculty of Religious Studies have been moved at how many have expressed their love, your love, for Ellen in recent days, but also I have been moved to see how much each one meant to her.

In the days to come we will find occasions, public and personal, to celebrate, commemorate, and honour Ellen. For now, I am sure that you will all agree with me in upholding Bill, in honouring Ellen, and in taking care of one another.

Warmly, Ian Henderson, Acting Dean, Faculty of Religious Studies

Funeral service Wednesday for Dean Ellen Aitken

A funeral service for Ellen Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, was held on Wednesday, June 18, at 10:30 a.m.

The service took place at Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, 137 President Kennedy Ave. A reception was held in the church hall after the service.