What is Christian Pastoral Care?
Pastoral care is a postmodern term for an ancient model of emotional, social and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. The term is considered inclusive and has expanded into pastoral care embracing many different religions and non-religious beliefs, providing different forms of support, for people living in their communities.
I have completed a Master’s degree in in-depth theological and religious studies and a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work with a particular emphasis on the Pastoral Associate’s area of interest and giftedness. In 2004, I was Commissioned by the Bishop of Trenton, NJ as a Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister with good pastoral counseling and listening skills, teaching and ministering within several Catholic Parishes, as an Adjunct Professor, and in a couple of the Dioceses for over 16 years.
Pastoral Care is difficult to define because it is a phenomenon that is both simple and complex. Dr Tom Cerni (Head Counselor at Scots College), is accurate when he points to its essential simplicity, with its one essential aim of helping people to know love, both as something to be received and something to give.
Pastoral Care also consists of a direction towards the healing, sustaining, guiding, reconciling and nurturing of persons whose troubles and concerns arise in the context of daily interactions and ultimate means and concerns.
- Healing – a pastoral function that aims to overcome some impairment by restoring the person to wholeness and by leading them to advance beyond their previous condition.
- Sustaining – helping a hurting person to endure and to transcend a circumstance in which restoration to their former condition or recuperation from their malady is either impossible or so remote as to seem improbable.
- Guiding – assisting perplexed persons to make confident choices between alternative courses of thought and action, when such choices are viewed as affecting the present and the future state of human wholeness.
- Reconciling – seeking to re-establish broken relationships between man (sic) and fellow man and between man and God. Historically, reconciling has employed two modes – forgiveness and discipline.
- Nurturing – enabling people to develop their potentialities, throughout the life journey with all its valleys, peaks, and plateaus. Nurturing and guiding are the pastoral care functions in which education and counseling are most intertwined.