Indigenous Pastoral and Lay Leader Ministry Education


Indigenous Pastoral and Lay Leader Ministry Education

Pictured left: Icon of the Sacred Heart 2017 in collaboration with Romeo Crow Chief of Siksika Nation written by Andre J. Prevost

The next round of four courses begins in September 2022, offered online from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoons

  • Introduction to First Nations Studies – Course #1 – Sept. 20 to Nov. 15, 2022 – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
  • Indigenous-Settler Relationship – Course #2 – Jan. 10 to March 7, 2023
  • Contemporary Effects of Colonization – Course #3 – March 28 to May 23, 2023
  • The Church and Indigenous Peoples – Course #4 – Sept. 26 to Nov. 21, 2023

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, St. Thomas More College and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools present:

Indigenous Pastoral & Lay Leader Ministry Education is a continuing education program for Catholic Indigenous and non-Indigenous clergy and lay ministers, led by teams of Indigenous and non-Indigenous instructors, modelling respectful and reconciling relationships. The program is jointly sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, St. Thomas More College and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

The Indigenous Pastoral & Lay Leader Ministry Education Program includes:

  • An overview of the features of Indigenous peoples in western Canada, with specific reference to the Saskatchewan context.
  • An overview of the history and features of contact and relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples with specific reference to the Roman Catholic Church experience.
  • Creation of a dialogue between Indigenous and Christian world views.
  • Insight into the history that has shaped the complex nature of the relationships in the present day.
  • Provide mutual sharing and hope for a respectful and harmonious future as children of God, who together seek beauty and good of all.

Why take the program?

  • To participate in a concerted effort to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action.
  • To learn about the history of the interaction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples including the impact of Roman Catholic missionaries on Indigenous communities.
  • To discuss areas of culture convergence/divergence.
  • To further Catholic social and moral teachings.
  • ​To support the building of right relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics in Western Canada.

Who should take this program?

  • Clergy
  • Lay ecclesial ministers
  • Catechists
  • Catholic school teachers
  • Youth
  • Family ministry leaders

Schedule and Registration:

NOTE:  Participants completing all four courses will earn an Indigenous Pastoral & Lay Leader Ministry Certificate.

The program sessions for each of the four courses will be offered online only from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (SK time) on Tuesday afternoons. Participants will receive log-in information before the first session.

Each course is 18 hours including out-of-class time commitment to additional reading and course work.

Course 1 (Introduction to First Nations Studies)  – Sept. 20 to Nov. 15, 2022 –  REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

Course 2 (Indigenous-Settler Relationship) – Jan. 10 to March 7, 2023

Course 3 (Introduction to Contemporary Effects of Colonization)  – March 28 to May 23, 2023

Course 4 (Introduction to Reconciliation: The Church and Indigenous Peoples) – Sept. 26 to Nov. 21, 2023


The fee is $200 for each course.

Funding assistance and bursaries may be available for both clergy and laity – diocesan residents can apply for support through the diocesan Education of Laity Fund: LINK.

For further information, please contact or 306-659-5831.

Reflections from Participants in the Program

First group completes IPL certificate program in November 2021

The first group of IPL participants included a number who completed various individual courses throughout 2020-21, as well as 13 who completed all four courses to earn a certificate in November 2021 after two years of learning.

IPL graduates presented with certificates for completing all four courses are Chandra Behren, Wynona Cenaiko, Connie Crichton, Wendy Dale, Cynthia Foster, Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR, Darcie Lich, Thomas McKay, Sr. Marta Piano, Fr. Joseph Salihu, and Lisa Skorski – all of Saskatoon – as well as Marcelle Marion of Winnipeg, MB and Cheryl Unruh of Fort Langley, BC.

Facilitators and teachers presenting the first IPL program included Adrienne Castellon, MaryAnne Morrison, Cristen Dorgan-Lee, Ryan Leblanc, and Bishop Mark Hagemoen, as well as a number of guest speakers and leaders throughout the course of the online program — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – who shared knowledge, insights and experiences and modelling respectful and reconciling relationships.

The curriculum and the format of the online program encouraged discussion, reflection and personal exploration – and the impact was obvious in participant reflections throughout the course, as well as in comments by those gathered for a wind-up celebration Nov. 27, 2021 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

Indigenous Pastoral and Lay Leader (IPL) continuing education program graduates, leaders and facilitators gathered in November to mark the presentation of certificates to the first group of graduates. (Catholic Saskatoon News photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

“One thing that I appreciated was being part of such a diverse collective, so what a beautiful opportunity to meet and to work with people from the diocese, from outside the diocese, from across the country, and to hear from various organizations and not only to learn from them but to build relationship. If there is one thing that I heard over and over and over in this course –  that I took to heart – is that relationship is key,” said participant Darcie Lich of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

Celebrating the conclusion of the program was a moment “to look back and to look ahead with the eyes and heart of God,” said participant Sr. Marta Piano of the Verbum Dei Missionaries.  “For each one of us it is a long journey and we don’t walk alone, we walk together”

Participant Connie Crichton of St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon noted: “If we are interested in truly taking part in reconciliation we first need to know where we have come from before we can go forward.”

The wind-up event in November included a smudging ceremony; an honour song by Delvin Kanewiyakiho, First Nations and Métis cultural consultant with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools; Mass with Bishop Mark Hagemoen; a reception; a Métis fiddle performance; and presentation of certificates.

In his homily, Bishop Hagemoen noted that the IPL certificate program brings together many elements in a unique way. “It’s an interdisciplinary academic program in many ways, kind of merging together theological reflection and religious studies work, (and) Indigenous studies in terms of spirituality and ways of knowing, and trying to – in the cross-fertilization of different ways of teaching and learning from a faith tradition and spiritual traditions – find the pathway forward”.

During the reception that followed, Hagemoen noted that the IPL program is an important benchmark for the diocese, for St. Thomas More College and for Greater Saskatoon Schools. “The inspiration came from a real desire of different Catholic organizations to put wheels on the TRC Calls to Action. The education piece and the formation piece is so important.”

He also expressed his thanks to the partner organizations, to the leaders, teachers and facilitators for their “generosity, expertise and time,” and to participants for making a commitment to reconciliation.

“I am looking forward to where the Spirit leads us,” he said.

Published on the Diocese of Saskatoon website