St. Matthias’, St. James’ and Holy Cross are embarking on a new adventure in ministry: training our ministers to be more effective in pastoral care! We will be members of Community of Hope International, who gives us the structure for education for ministry and for sustaining that ministry. The Community of Hope was formed at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, a well known center for cancer treatment. Unique to Community of Hope is its grounding in Benedictine Spirituality as a base both for the ministry and for the continuing care of the caregivers.
The training requires a commitment of time “up front.” We began on Saturday, April 28th with the first of eight 4 hour sessions. The training is excellent, covering many areas of pastoral care. The skills we will cultivate will be used in most, if not all, areas of life, as well as in ministry.
As the therapist who taught the Pastoral Care classes in Dallas said, “We all do pastoral care.” That is so true. Every day of our lives we are listening and
responding to our families and our friends, even when there’s no crisis. The areas of ministry open to Community of Hope Caregivers are many. Some ministries cited by congregations are: hospice care, hospital visitation, Lay Eucharist Visitors, homebound ministry, disaster relief workers (as a worker, or ministering to workers), nursing home visiting or care, cancer support groups, life transition ministry, residences for abused women and children, ministries to homeless people, school mentor, Big Brother, retirement centers. There are other possibilities, as well. For those already in pastoral care ministry the training will enhance the ministry.
One of the most critical components of the training for Community of Hope is active listening skills, a ministry our culture mediates against from childhood. This is one of the most valuable areas of education for pastoral care and one we use every day in almost every conversation.
The training includes also the theology of pastoral care and the practice of Benedictine Spirituality, boundaries, grief, and ministry with seniors, among other things. After the training, there are regular meetings with the other Community of Hope Caregivers in the parish for support, prayer and discussion. The continuing meetings are a favorite of the Caregivers, as they find that care for themselves, support and advancing their skills, and growing spiritually are important parts of their own lives.
Kendall Raymond, Ann Fellers and Mary Richard, as well as Rosemary Lafargue of St. Mark’s, have made the commitment to Community of Hope training. Please ask any of us if you have any interest in Community of Hope. Please click the Community of Hope logo above to find out more.
The Rev. Mary B. Richard