Ministry Programs

NOTICE: The Diploma in Ministry Program is being phased out and will end June 2016. The last intake of students was for Fall term 2014.

"The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me.... has anointed me.... has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord's year of favour"(Lk 4:18-19). With these words, Jesus proclaims his ministry to bring people into a new and redeemed relationship with God and each other.

Today, the Church continues Jesus' mission. Through our Baptism, we accept Jesus' mission and make it our own. Each of us is called to discipleship.

"Ministry," in the general sense, refers to the specific means of accomplishing an intended mission. Ministry is always responsive; that is, it calls for action that is ultimately directed toward promoting our relationship with God and each other.

These actions illustrate God's presence in our world and empower us to live fully in communion with God and our neighbour.

There are diverse ministries given by God as gifts to the Church in response to the needs of God's people.

Our goal is to offer faith formation programs for adults discerning their call to lay ministry and those seeking personal spiritual enrichment.

 Our vision is for a laity strong in personal faith and leadership ability. 

"I found the course inspiring, fascinating, thought-provoking and I realized much spiritual growth. I would highly recommend it.” -Diploma in Ministry Graduate

The Diploma/Certificate in Ministry Program is offered in a distance education format (print-based*). The program is designed for adults who may be involved, or who wish to be involved in paid or unpaid ministry in their parish or diocese. It is also of interest to those who wish to learn more about their faith for personal reasons. Our students include those involved in hospital ministry, prison ministry, teachers in the Catholic School system, RCIA directors and volunteers, religious education coordinators and catechists, palliative care ministers, diocesan staff, campus ministers, parish secretaries, pastoral team members and those who wish to learn more as part of a personal faith journey.

The Diploma in Ministry Program offers 6 courses and students must complete 5 to receive the diploma. Of the 6 courses offered, 3 are compulsory, and students choose 2 from the 3 electives for a total of 5.

The Certificate in Lay Ministry is offered in conjunction with the Diploma in Ministry. Participants receive a Certificate in Lay Ministry for completion of MNST110: Ministry in the Christian Community plus three other courses in the diploma program, except the practicum (see below for details). This option is of special interest to those enrolled in the program for personal faith formation rather than credentials to work in paid or unpaid lay ministry.

In addition, courses not requiring a prerequisite are now offered on an individual basis. People who wish to take one or two courses can do so provided they have an academic grade XII or its equivalent, or they may apply as a mature student. Contact the Program Office for details.

MNST110 Ministry in the Christian Community (required for both the diploma and the certificate)

MNST120 Adult Religious Education (required for the diploma, optional for the certificate

MNST130 Biblical Foundations (an elective in both programs)

MNST140 Christian Sacraments (an elective in both programs)

MNST160 Self-directed Study (an elective in both programs, not available for the certificate)

MNST170 Practicum (required for the diploma, not available for the certificate)

Distance Education

This program is delivered by distance education, and incorporates many features that contribute to the success of adult learners. Many adults describe the freedom of home study as the main reason for choosing a distance delivery program. Other popular features of such programs include: courses which provide comprehensive learning packages, and services which offer individualized attention. Key features of this program include the following:

Course Materials

At the beginning of each course, participants receive a learning package of course lessons; required textbooks and course packs are available for purchase from the Campus Store.  

Course Instructors

Access to course instructors is an important feature of the program. Instructors can be reached by toll free calling within Canada, by fax or by e-mail. Instructors also provide written feedback on assignments.

“It was extremely well organized which allowed me to study at home with confidence. Accessible support was also a major factor.” Diploma in Ministry Graduate.

Program Strength

St. Francis Xavier University, a small liberal arts university founded in 1853, is proud of its strong Catholic heritage. StFX is recognized nationally and internationally for leadership in community service. It has a proven reputation in the field of adult education and distance delivery programming.

This Diploma in Ministry Program has received widespread diocesan support from across Canada. Expert religious educators have recommended the program which has been developed by professionals with extensive background in theology and/or adult religious education. This approach makes the program responsive to the needs of adult learners and the Catholic Church.

University Credits: St. Francis Xavier University awards 12 credits or the equivalent of 2 courses for the completion of the Diploma in Ministry Program. For credit transfer to other universities, StFX will provide an official letter and transcript confirming academic standard and completion. Diplomas are awarded at the Fall Convocation on campus.

Common Questions

How many hours a week should I schedule for study and assignments?
Work varies with each course. Twelve hours per week should be scheduled. You may find initially that you spend more time than suggested organizing your study habits and completing the required chapters; however, this will decrease as the program progresses and study habits improve.
My study skills are rusty - can I handle the workload?
The most important factors in successful distance-study are personal discipline and efficient time management. Please make use of the supports available to you through your local advisor, instructors and program office staff.
Who are the instructors/advisors?
Instructors and advisors in the program are highly qualified individuals with academic background and/or experience in adult education and lay ministry.
I have taken courses from other institutions.How do I get these evaluated for credit towards diploma requirements?
To apply for exemption, students must make the request in writing and arrange for official transcripts to be forwarded to the program office. When these documents are received, evaluation and notification will occur as soon as possible. Each application is evaluated on an individual basis. A maximum of one course-equivalent may be applied towards diploma requirements.


Click here to email your questions to us.
Call (902) 867-3319 or toll-free 1-877-867-5562.
Co-ordinator: Mary MacInnis
Program Assistant: Cindy MacEachern