About Us

Catholic Independent Schools of the Nelson Diocese

The Catholic Independent Schools of the Nelson Diocese (CISND) is one of the five Catholic dioceses in BC that operates Catholic schools.  The CISND hosts six elementary schools and one high school.  The CISND is non-profit society governed by a Board of Directors.  The Board appoints some authority to the local School Councils. 

The schools of the diocese are registered with and approved to operate by the BC Ministry of Education.  BC certified teachers are committed to offering a Catholic Education to those enrolled in the school.  Each school is affiliated with the local Catholic parishes.

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Catholic schools in the diocese existed long before Pope Pius XI created the Diocese of Nelson in 1936.  It was in 1859 that Rev. Charles Pandosy, O.M.I., established the first Catholic school in the Okanagan Valley.  Some 40 years later, St. Eugene Mission in the East Kootenays came into existence and served the people in the area for a number of years.  It was around the same time, in 1898, that the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Nelson and opened a two-room boarding school enrolling 84 children.  The schools that originally were opened throughout the diocese in those early years have since closed and today seven schools are in operation.

The Sisters of Charity of Halifax arrived in Kelowna and started St. Joseph School, the largest elementary school in the diocese, with one kindergarten class in 1939.  Bishop Johnson opened St. Joseph School (now called Holy Cross School) in Penticton with the Sisters of St. Anne in 1952.  A year later, he opened St. Michael’s School in Trail.  By 1960, Kelowna was ready to expand and Immaculata Regional High School was built on the St. Joseph School property under the leadership of Bishop Doyle.  It wasn’t until 1965 that St. Mary’s School in Cranbrook became a reality through the joint efforts of Bishop Doyle, St. Mary’s Parish, and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Indian Affairs Branch.  St. Joseph School in Nelson was able to reopen its doors in 1979.  As the Okanagan continued to grow, two more elementary schools came into existence under Bishop Mallon’s guidance.  Holy Cross School in Penticton reopened in 1993 and the following year the newest school in the diocese, Our Lady of Lourdes School in West Kelowna, came on the scene.  By 1995 Immaculata Regional High School had outgrown its space and a new site was established on KLO Road.

Schools of the diocese were originally staffed by religious orders of brothers, sisters and priests but today lay people are employed and are supported by the religious of the area.  In 1957, Bishop McCarthy established the Catholic Public Schools of the Nelson Diocese (CPSND) and a decision in 1998 saw the name changed to the Catholic Independent Schools of the Nelson Diocese (CISND).  Catholic Education in the diocese remains strong and committed to its mission of:
In partnership with home and Church, the schools of the diocese strive to educate the whole child with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ as its foundation. 


All schools teach in the Roman Catholic Tradition.  Each school day begins and ends in prayer.  Students receive religious instruction from the teachers and parish priests make every effort to visit the school on a regular basis.  Alive in Christ and Benziger Family Life are the main faith resources used at the elementary level; a variety of resources are used at the high school level.  Masses are celebrated monthly and the parish community is always welcome to attend.  Students and staff participate in school reconciliation services during the seasons of Advent and Lent.  A number of schools hold an annual student retreat.

The sacraments of First Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation are parish events.  Students receive their instruction at the school level with approximately three preparation meetings being held at the parish.  Parents are require to attend preparation meetings held at the parish.  Confirmed in the Spirit is the mandatory Confirmation resource used throughout the diocese.  There are a number of resource options for First Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Schools participate in a number of service activities which support such organizations as Holy Childhood, St. Vincent de Paul, Terry Fox Run, Jump Rope for Heart, Operation Christmas Child, local community food banks and shelters, as well as a number of other charities.  High school students have the opportunity to participate in the Mexico Mission trip which builds homes in Mexico for the less fortunate.

It is our goal that students learn about their faith, develop a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, and live in service to others.