Beginning in the fall, three Canadian dioceses will offer a lay formation program that focuses on the Catholic faith as lived out within aboriginal traditions and culture. A joint project of the Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Keewatin/Le Pas dioceses, the program will be offered in conjunction with an existing two-year program at Queen's House of Retreats. The program already includes courses of study that focus on lay ministry to Ukrainian- and Latin-rite Catholics.
The unique program will fill a great need for aboriginal people to deepen their Catholic faith within their own cultural framework, said Verna Vandale, parish life director at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon. "It is going to give our people a stronger sense of belonging," said Vandale, a member of the planning committee and a graduate of the diocesan lay formation program. "I think it will really empower the people to nurture their spirituality, both in the context of their aboriginal culture but also as Catholics." Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner Gayle Weenie said the program is not radical or controversial, but explores the Catholic faith as it is lived out in aboriginal culture.