The Parish Nurse as Counsellor and Spiritual CompanionCourse Level: Intermediate

Course Summary

Parish Nursing is also known as Faith Community Nursing, Congregational Nursing or Church Nursing. In this course, we will use the term "Parish Nursing".  

Parish Nursing Ministry holds spiritual care as essential to a person's health and wellness. The Parish Nurse functions as a member of the health ministry team, caring for the body, mind, and spirit. The aim of the course is to build on previously attained knowledge and skills to further prepare the Parish Nurse in the roles of counselor and spiritual companion. The curriculum is directed toward personal and professional growth, preparing nurses for the role as parish nurse in parish nursing ministry or further development of parish nursing skills.

This five week parish nursing course will expand our understanding of the Parish Nurse as Counsellor and Spiritual Companion. Three key components include spirituality, professional practice, and wholistic health. Spirituality will be explored through sessions on the topics Pastoral Care, and Grief Loss and Suffering.  Professional Practice topics include sessions on Pastoral Counselling and Mental Health and the Parish Nurse. Our Focus on the Wholistic Health topic will be a session on The Parish Nurse as a Facilitator of Wellness.  

Please Note:
In order to run this course we need a minimum of 8 students to register for each offering.   If registration is not sufficient, the course will be withdrawn and offered again in the following year.   We regret any inconvenience to those who have registered.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • Understand the role and resources of pastoral care, pastoral counselling and spiritual direction in parish nursing
  • Understand the importance and skills of spiritual assessment
  • Understand the components of spiritual companionship
  • Understand the phases, behaviours and boundaries of pastoral counselling in parish nursing
  • Understand the meanings of health, healing and wholeness, and health promotion from a Judeo-Christian perspective
  • Discuss the role of parish nurse as health educator and health counsellor in promoting and assisting people achieve wellness
  • Understand mental health, mental illness and the parish nurse and faith community's role in promoting mental wellness
  • Understand the role of the parish nurse as a spiritual companion and facilitator of healing for those who are experiencing grief, loss and suffering

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Janet S. Hickman Fast facts for the faith community nurse: Implementing FCN/parish nursing in a nutshell. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2011 ISBN: 978-0826107121
  • Required Book: Mary Elizabeth O’Brien Spirituality in Nursing - Standing on Holy Ground Jones & Bartlett Learning, LCC. 7th Edition, 2022. ISBN: 978-1284225044
  • Required Book: Alan Wolfelt Companioning the Bereaved: A Soulful Guide for Counselors and Caregivers. Fort Collins, CO: Companion Press. 2005 ISBN: 978-1879651418
  • Required Special Note: St Peter’s Seminary Fee
    • This course is offered in conjunction with St Peter’s Seminary, London, Ontario, Canada.  All course participants are required to contact St Peter’s Seminary to complete their course registration.  There will be an additional $25.00 (CDN) fee for initial registration, payable to St Peter’s Seminary.  Your certificate of course completion will be provided by the University of Dayton.  This course may be used towards the Certificate in Parish Nursing Ministry, offered by St Peter’s Seminary.  For more information contact  For registration form and payment options to St Peter’s Seminary please visit:

  • Optional Book: Rupp, J Praying Our Goodbyes: A spiritual Companion through Life's Losses and Sorrows. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press ISBN: 978-1594712050

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Pastoral Care/Spiritual Care Giving
    • Understand the meaning and relationship of the terms pastoral care, pastoral counselling and spiritual direction
    • Identify the key characteristics and skills of an effective caring relationship
    • Understand the importance and skills in spiritual assessment
    • Become aware of appropriate responses and resources for meeting spiritual needs and providing pastoral care
  • Week 2: Counselling in Parish Nurse Ministry
    • Describe the counselling relationship, its various phases and behaviours [br]
    • Understand the concept of pastoral counselling and its relation to parish nursing
    • Recognize the boundaries for counselling in parish nurse ministry and those specific to the individual church setting
  • Week 3: Wholistic Health Promotion: The Parish Nurse as a Facilitator of Wellness
    • Discuss his/her own emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological and relational wellness
    • Describe a wholistic approach, relating the concept of wholeness to the Christian faith
    • Discuss the role of the parish nurse and interventions in health teaching, health promotion and disease prevention in assisting people within a faith community setting to achieve wellness of body, mind and spirit.
  • Week 4: Mental Health and the Parish Nurse
    • Describe characteristics of positive mental health
    • Outline warning signs of mental disorders
    • Select nursing interventions that provide for the wholistic needs of the person with mental health challenges and families affected by mental illness[br]
    • Discuss how faith communities can contribute to mental health as part of service to the whole person
  • Week 5: Grief, Loss and Suffering
    • Develop a beginning understanding of the different types of loss and the grieving process
    • Understand factors that influence the response to loss
    • Understand suffering, loss and death in relation to spirituality, faith and God’s love
    • Understand the role of the parish nurse as a spiritual companion and facilitator of healing for those who are experiencing grief, loss and suffering related to death and non-death experiences