The Our Lady of the Prairies Foundation is a private family foundation 'dedicated to nurturing love and compassion for all creation'.
Founded by J.P. (Jack) Leier and created by an Act of the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1957, the name Our Lady of the Prairies was chosen to honour Mary, the mother of Jesus and to pay tribute to those many prairie pilgrims, who in building a new home, called upon Mary for nurturing, guidance and consolation.
As a small boy, Jack grew up in an environment where faith and working in community with others was an integral part of his family life. He observed his mother picking rocks to clear their homestead and using those stones to build a shrine to Our Lady. Her Catholic heritage held the Mother of Jesus in high esteem and like many other pioneers in the Catholic community she turned to Mary for love and understanding. Mary was seen as a mother, friend and companion they could trust with their most intimate thoughts. Their relationship with her was very personal and helped mitigate their sense of isolation. Many felt her presence as they went about their work. They created sacred spaces where they erected shrines (often in their homes) and they traveled to various shrines to take part in annual pilgrimages. The history of individual Saskatchewan Marian Shrines can be found on our links page.
J.P. (Jack) Leier was a successful businessman who retained his great faith and deep devotion to the Virgin Mary. He was a generous man with a vision and a passion to give back to the community in thanksgiving for the many blessings he had received.
Jack died in 1972, but his support of private philanthropy continues through the Foundation administered by his family and members of the community.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Foundation commissioned a picture of Mary, which portrays her walking across the prairies. Through this depiction, the Foundation pays tribute to the faith and spirit of those who believe Mary, as Mother of Earth and Sky, walks with them on their journey.