Module 1 - Benedictine Spirituality

Benedictine spirituality is focused on the search for God through life in community and it is in that connection to community that we find fulfillment in life. Rooted in this core wisdom of Benedictine Spirituality, COHI seeks to fulfill its mission to serve others and to lend a listening ear to those we encounter in daily life, treating them as Christ in our midst. This first module helps lay pastoral caregivers understand how the principles of Benedictine spirituality apply to us today as COHI lay pastoral caregivers, invites them to create a Rule of Life and commit to regular spiritual practices, and will hopefully inspire participants to commit to read and reflect daily on The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister.

module 2 - theology of pastoral care

The word “pastor” is the Latin word for shepherd. A shepherd tends, leads, guides, cherishes, feeds and protects his flock...Thus, the pastoral encounter is not merely an occasion to engage a sick or hurting person in casual conversation. The primary pastoral goal is to disclose God’s love, protection, guidance, strength for, and presence with the one who is in crisis or suffering. Participants will come to understand the characteristics, goals and functions of pastoral care ministry, be able to relate pastoral care to his/her personal relationship with God, and learn to recognize that the care receiver’s needs are different from one’s own. 

module 3 - pastoral identity

Pastoral identity is an internalized sense of oneself as the agent through whom the Christ lives and breathes, ministering to those in need. As we grow in our relationship with God and in our relationship to each other in community, we experience a deepening sense of authority, confidence, and maturity to minister pastoral care. In this module, trainees will become familiar with four aspects of pastoral identity: attitude, ability, authority, and accountability. Also, they will participate in the community process of pastoral identity formation by sharing their personal stories. 

module 4 - listening skills

The foundation of all pastoral care is love and compassion. The primary characteristic of compassionate ministry is the ministry of presence, a willingness to be with another who is in deep distress or grief. Compassionate ministry also requires true listening, or being present with empathy.  During this module, participants will be able to practice listening skills individually and in small groups, to identify feelings in themselves as well as those expressed by others, as well as practice interpreting non-verbal communication cues. 

module 5 - prayer, christian meditation, and silence

“For God alone my soul in silence waits...from him comes my salvation” (Psalm 62:1). The practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, meditation and silence enhances our ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word. This practice produces the fruit of increased spiritual sensitivity and compassion for others. Trainees will participate in individual and community prayer, worship, Christian meditation and silence, come to understand the relationship between the, and be encouraged to begin the practice of meditation morning and evening. 

module 6 -motivational spiritual gifts

In Romans 12:6-8, the Apostle Paul names seven spiritual gifts which must operate within the church for it to function as the Body of Christ: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, administration, and mercy. This module will help participants to discover their own motivational spiritual gifts, identify the strengths and weaknesses associated with them, and relate their gifts to pastoral care ministry.

module 7 - the pastoral visit & boundaries

The pastoral visit is a holy time in which lay pastoral caregivers express care and concern in such ways as will assist care receivers in their journeys toward wholeness. This module will assist participants to develop specific pastoral care skills: observation, listening, sensitivity, empathy, knowing your own and the care receiver’s boundaries. As well as helping caregivers to discern how and when to use scripture and prayer during the   pastoral visit. 

module 8 - confidentiality, first practice visit, and debriefing

Ethical choices play a major role in what a lay pastoral caregiver does before, during, and after any pastoral visit. This modules helps participants to understand the ethical expectations within a lay pastoral caregiver/care receiver relationship. Also, it provides the opportunity for trainees to observe and work with experienced COHI lay pastoral caregivers and emphasizes the necessity of debriefing. 

module 9 - understanding family systems

Everyone has a story to tell that usually involves his part in a larger family story. The lay pastoral caregiver is there to listen to that sacred story, with an ear to hear God's role in the story, and with a heart to bring encouragement for the strengths and healing for the strains. This module presents tools that help lay pastoral caregivers learn to invite others to tell their stories in a way that includes family members and God. 

module 10 - grief: coping with loss

The ministry of presence is central to the ministry of caring for the dying or the grieving. It is imperative that lay pastoral caregivers begin to come to terms with their own fears and feelings about death and loss. During training, lay pastoral caregivers share with each other their own stories of loss and grief as preparation to listen to those to whom they minister. 

module 11 - pastoral care for seniors

Growing older is a time for integrating one’s life, seeing it as a whole, both the good and the bad, accepting it, and drawing meaning, strength and joy from the present and hope for the future. This module will help participants to understand the needs of seniors in living a fulfilling life, to be aware of problems that may lead to illness, to understand the need to connect the young with seniors, and to understand the Benedictine attitude toward seniors. 

module 12 - second practice visit

By offering an opportunity to make pastoral care visits under supervision, the participants will be better prepared to visit during the internship. The second practice visit gives trainees experience in a pastoral care setting, provides opportunities for trainees to visit in a facility of interest for future COHI placement, and allows trainees experience in debriefing after pastoral care visits. 

module 13 - care for the caregiver

When Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," He points to care of self as the beginning of the caring process. As we grow more deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, we realize that we are as precious to Him as those whom we serve. This module will help trainees identify and honor their own needs and limitations, to distinguish between empathy and sympathy, to establish personal boundaries, and to conclude that the Circle of Care is intended to sustain community, bonding and debriefing. 

module 14 - commitment to ministry

Pastoral ministry in The Community of Hope International calls for our commitment, obedience, perseverance and stability. We are invited to be responsible, accountable and committed to our partners in ministry and to those we serve. Trainees will name the pastoral ministry they intend to pursue on a regular basis, commit to regularly attend and share in Circle of Care meetings, and agree to honor the pastoral visit reporting system of their center or region.