Born in Trail, British Columbia, he attended St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby. He attended St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he also played football. He finished his undergraduate degree at Niagara University in New York, before receiving his Master's and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the Jesuit-led Fordham University in New York City. While at Fordham, Sylvester met his future wife, Dr. Allyson Larkin, who was in the same program. Sylvester became the first President of Corpus Christi College and in 2005 was named the Principal of St. Mark's College, also at the University of British Columbia. He was hired to serve as the principal of King's University College in 2009. At the time of his hiring he also served as the vice-chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada.
-  Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine, B.C. Catholic Newspaper
-  Archived 2011-05-16 at the Wayback Machine, King's University College biography
- , Western Communications
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-03-02. Retrieved 2018-03-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)