Introduction to Pastoral CareCourse Level: Basic

Course Summary

In this introduction to pastoral care, a course for lay parish workers and volunteers, you will be introduced to some essential scriptural, pastoral and relational considerations for effective and sensitive pastoral care in parish and community ministries.

During the course you are invited to bring your personal understanding of our loving and merciful God to the task of forming the foundations for effective and empathetic pastoral care in lay ministry. It is designed to help you to appreciate the relational nature of care and the diversity of people to whom you will minister within the parish or community. You will develop an understanding of what it means to be a minister of care and become aware of the personal qualities needed as you accompany people in their times of need. Your disposition and skills for pastoral care will be developed through personal and theological reflection on the Scriptures and readings. Through the discussion boards you will have the opportunity to engage with your on-line learning community and make connections between your own experience, theological reflection and the practical skills of the ministry of care and presence.

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

General Course Objectives

  • Scriptural foundations for pastoral care
  • A Christian perspective of human suffering and the relational nature of pastoral care
  • Essential personal skills and qualities for effective ministry of care and presence
  • Practical and professional aspects of pastoral visitation
  • The place and practice of prayer in pastoral visits

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Glen, G., Kofler, M., and O’Connor, K. Handbook for Ministers of Care Archdiocese of Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 1997. ISBN: 1568541023; ISBN-13: 978-1568541020
  • Required Book: Ghosn, M. Instrument of Your Peace: The Art of Catholic Pastoral Care Preston,Victoria: Challenge Books, 2012. ISBN: 1625643152; ISBN-13: 978-1625643155
  • Required Book: Miller, J.E., with Cutshall, S. The Art of Being a Healing Presence: A Guide for Those in Caring Relationships Fort Wayne, IN: Willowglen Publishing, 2001. ISBN: 1885933320; ISBN-13: 9781885933324
  • Required Book: Glen Genevieve OSB, Handbook for Ministers of Care Pauline Books and Media ISBN: 978-1568541020
  • Required Book: Ghosn, M. Instrument of Your Peace: The Art of Catholic Pastoral Care Preston, Victoria: Challenge Books, 2012. ISBN: 1625643152; ISBN-13: 978-1625643155

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: The Ministry of Pastoral Care: A Response to Human Needs
    • Identify your own understanding of the practice of pastoral care
    • Reflect on the scriptural basis for this ministry of pastoral care
  • Week 2: The Human Experience of Suffering
    • Review some common assumptions used to explain suffering
    • Explore the Catholic understanding of suffering and healing in the light of scripture
    • Understand the importance of supporting the whole person in the encounter with suffering
  • Week 3: Ministry of Care and Presence
    • Reflect on the art of being present to others and creating a ‘healing space’
    • Consider some basic skills for pastoral care especially that of listening
    • Explore your own ‘charter for being a healing presence’
  • Week 4: A Pastoral Visit
    • The differences between social and pastoral conversation
    • How to organize a home or pastoral visit
    • How to present yourself and interact with people during the visit
    • What to do after the visit
    • Practical and professional aspects of visiting
    • Self-care
  • Week 5: Pastoral Prayer
    • Consider some basic principles in praying with sick adults or children
    • Consider the practical elements in being a leader of prayer
    • Understand how to set a prayerful environment that considers the sick person’s needs
    • Learn how to choose appropriate scripture readings
    • Be aware of sacramental symbols and spiritual practices in the Catholic tradition