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Certificate in Pastoral Ministry

Certificate in Pastoral Ministry (CPM)

The Certificate in Pastoral Ministry provides current and prospective ecclesial ministers with a solid foundation in the Catholic theological tradition necessary for a rich and fulfilling ministry in the contemporary U.S. Catholic Church.

The certificate courses combine theological rigor and leading-edge pedagogy with assignments and project-based learning centered on practical application. In these dynamic seminars, students will learn from faculty who are well connected and deeply involved in the religious communities of Cleveland.

Our flexible 18-credit hour program offers two formats to remain active in your current life and work schedule.

Can't come to campus? Join class every week remotely through teleconferencing. Interact with the instructor and participate in engaging class discussions from virtually anywhere. There is no residency requirement, so the entire program can be completed online.

This program meets the academic requirements needed to become a Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister in the Diocese of Cleveland.

  • The certificate program consists of six required semester-long courses (18 credits total).
  • This program is typically completed in two years, with students taking one course per semester, including summers.
  • All courses taken may be applied to the JCU Master of Arts in Theology & Religious Studies.

Certificate in Pastoral Ministry Highlights

picture of the bell tower with white flowers

Learning Goals

  1. Critically analyze the religious dimensions of human experience as expressed in sacred texts, art, ritual practice, ethical commitments, philosophy/theology, and social structures. 
  2. Appreciate how religious or ethical traditions provide resources for responding to injustice and living ethically.
Fall leaves in front of stain glass window on chapel

Why a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry from JCU?

Tailored courses and dedicated faculty allow students to deepen their faith on the path to becoming a Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister in the Diocese of Cleveland. Students in CPM courses have the opportunity to learn from, and with, a diverse learning community of ministers who serve in Catholic schools and parishes around the diocese and beyond. With both on-campus and remote options, weekly seminars allow for one-on-one interaction with instructors and full participation in class discussions.

students in classroom sitting at desk


The five required courses cover the principal areas of Catholic theology relevant to ministering in today’s church:

  • Scripture & Revelation (3 cr.)
  • New Testament Topics (3 cr.)
  • Christ & Paschal Mystery (3 cr.)
  • Church & Sacrament (3 cr.)
  • Catholic Moral Theology (3 cr.)

The sixth course is an elective that allows students to explore topics relevant to their work or personal growth. Possible electives include:

  • New Testament Ethics for Contemporary Culture
  • Teaching Theology
  • Ignatian Spirituality
  • Islamic Spirituality
  • What Happened at Vatican II
  • Abraham: Father of Many Nations

Candidates pursuing Certification as a Lay Ecclesial Minister in the Diocese of Cleveland are expected to also complete the 2-credit Canon Law course offered each summer by St. Mary’s Seminary, either audit or for credit. If taken for credit, the course can be applied as transfer credits to JCU’s MA degree program. This course plan meets all "Intellectual Formation" requirements for Certification as a Lay Ecclesial Minister in the Diocese of Cleveland.

In the final semester of coursework, as a capstone to the Certificate program, CPM students will submit a Final Portfolio that includes the following elements:

  • A list of all TRS courses taken in the program;
  • One paper or assignment completed during the program that demonstrates student mastery of each of the two CPM Program Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs);
  • A 1500-word reflective essay exploring what you have learned during your time in the TRS CPM program.