G.D. in Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship

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* This program will not be offered during the 2024-2025 academic year.

The Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University offers a graduate program leading to a Graduate Diploma in Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship. This diploma is conferred jointly by the Senates of Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa.

Psychology, the contemporary reference in helping relationships, has replaced confession (Catholicism) and cure of souls (Protestantism) in today’s secular society. At the same time, references to spirituality are increasing. Many are searching for a more authentic life, open to experience, interiority, and silence. In health care, for example, prayer is being introduced to complement conventional practices. In this specific context, spiritual mentorship is poised to play a role in helping relationships.

Within a theological perspective, the program goals are to habilitate students in understanding the nature and dynamics of the contemplative path, to identify the interfaces linking it to human sciences and other spiritual traditions, and also develop one’s capacity to express personal experience according to theoretical content. In short, to provide a framework for future involvement in safe and efficient helping relationships.

Upon diploma completion, the graduate could:

  • Use the training in his/her present professional setting (e.g: psychotherapy, health professional or other); or
  • Apply to the Master’s in Theology with concentration in Spirituality (part of the units obtained in the diploma can be recognised).

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Academic regulations.

Admissions scholarships.


Candidates must satisfy the following conditions :

  1. Hold an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Theology, or Psychology, or Health Sciences, or a relevant discipline; with an average of at least «B» (70%).
  2. Completion of a minimum of 12 units in Theology or Religious Studies: a pastoral experience may be considered equivalent.
  3. Comply with one of the following criteria (in each case provide a confirmation letter from the supervisor indicating the duration of the activity): Experience as a spiritual advisor, Experience as a psychologist or psychotherapist, Psychotherapy experience, Pastoral experience
  4. Provide the following documents: Motivation letter (maximum 500 words) and curriculum vitae, two (2) letters of recommendation (professor, advisor, employer, religious community superior, etc.); at least one from a university professor.
  5. Completion of a silent retreat, preferably the one organized by Saint Paul University’s Faculty of Theology.
  6. Pass an interview with the program coordinators to verify the candidate’s objectives and abilities for the program.

Compulsory Courses (15 units)

THO5112 Self-Understanding: Hermeneutical Theories and Methodological Integration (3u)
THO5113 Issues and Conditions for a Contemplative Renewal (3u)
THO5114 Steps on the Path towards Fullness: Methods and Issues (3u)
THO5115 The Master-Disciple Relationship and Spiritual Mentorship (3u)
THO5116 Contemplative Theology, Psychotherapies, and Spiritual Traditions: A Dialogical Approach (3u)

THO 5113 - Issues and Conditions for a Contemplative Renewal

This course examines several current controversial issues surrounding contemplative theology and related theological and pastoral issues (e.g., pantheistic drift, negative relationship with the body, dangers of self-absorption and of a mind empty of thoughts, subversive attitude towards institutions). Exploring these issues can establish a link to similar controversies in the past, and allows reflection on the conditions necessary for a modern contemplative renewal, using language adapted to a secular and pluralistic society.

THO 5114 - Steps on the Path towards Fullness: Methods and Issues

This course deepens the “mapping” done by mystical theologians (e.g., M. Eckhart, Theresa of Avila, Y. Raguin) of the road that leads to Fullness (unio mystica). What are the strengths and weaknesses of these “maps,” their commonalities and differences, their contribution to human knowledge and its spiritual dimension? Among the questions to be studied: What type of healing and what relationship to suffering is inherent in it? What is the place of grace as it relates to personal effort and the use of meditation methods? Are there any basic spiritual diseases?

THO 5115 - The Master-Disciple Relationship and Spiritual Mentorship

Contemplative theology has traditionally recognized the need for a guide when one embarks on the spiritual path. Such an insistence can be viewed with suspicion in an era which questions authority and received traditions. How may the history and nature of the master-disciple relationship be understood today? Conversely, many put their trust in any self-proclaimed guide. How may one avoid falling into dependency or into a cult? Different models of guide – master, director, accompanier, soul friend, mentor, and counsellor – will be explored. What points of convergence may exist between this relationship and other forms of spiritual authority – pastor, priest, guru, etc.?

THO 5116 - Contemplative Theology, Psychotherapies and Spiritual Traditions: A Dialogical Approach

This course deepens the study of spiritual experience and its attendant need for mentorship in dialogue with secular and pluralistic society. Among the questions to be studied: What is the nature of a dialogical approach, its promises and implications (e.g., Buber, Panikkar)? What issues arise in a social context in which interest in spirituality rubs shoulders with psychotherapies and Eastern meditation? How do they put theology itself into question? What are the similarities between the main meditation methods, Christian or otherwise? Do they lead to the same experience? If so, what is the value of the theological content?

Contact Us

Office of the Associate Vice-Rector, Strategic Enrolment Management
Room 148
Saint Paul University
223 Main Street
Ottawa, ON
K1S 1C4

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Telephone: 613-236-1393
Fax: 613-782-3014

Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please leave your documents in the mailbox in front of room 148 when our offices are closed.

Information for future students

Saint Paul University

223 Main Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1S 1C4


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