The development of the Clifton Ministry Skills Course marks an exciting moment in the life of our Diocese. Back in 2017, the idea of a pastoral ministry course was initiated by Canon Christopher Whitehead and since then we have been seeking the best way forward to enable people to access a rich and rewarding course which would enhance or prepare people for ministry in our parishes. It has been quite a journey to reach this point, but we are delighted that we are now embarking on what I believe will be the journey of a lifetime for anyone who cares to join us.
The skills course has been developed in line with the Loyola University Pastoral Ministry Course and is intended to bring students on this course and the ministry skills course together for a formation programme which consists of 8 six-hour sessions (plus a ‘third year’ of practical experience and theological reflection). It may be woven into the fabric of the Loyola Certificate Course or work alongside other avenues of formation.
The Course – Approach:
Rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, the course is designed to enable people to fully grow in the art of accompaniment. Prayer lies at the heart of each session and is the stepping off point for discussion and activities relating to the topic of the session. Application to ministry is the final element of each of the sessions. The foci for the Clifton Ministry Skills course are on:
- leaning the skills for ministry which are embedded in the theology
- experiencing and learning ways of praying and discernment in pastoral practice and deepening one’s spirituality as a leader
- understanding the role of lay or religious leaders in relation to the parish priests or deacons when enacting pastoral ministry
- learning and practicing methods of pastoral ministry in a post-pandemic church
- entering into a ‘third year’ of practice where enacting pastoral ministry is combined with intentional theological reflection.
Format of Course:
- Six-hour sessions will be held on Saturdays at a central location in the diocese.
- Students and team will attend and participate together
- Students will be provided with resources relating to the topics of the prayer in the form of on-line handouts and links to other resources. Reading in between the sessions will be necessary. There is no written work, but students are encouraged to keep a journal throughout the course for their own personal reflection.
The sessions in the course will be taught by persons skilled in group facilitation and experienced in pastoral ministry. For those who have or are studying theology, the Clifton Ministry Skills Course will help them to connect that theology to the lived experience of the church in today’s world.
The leader of prayer and the leader of the experience segment may be different people in each of the sessions.
Timetable for a Typical Session
10:00 Arrive for tea and refreshments
10:20 Convene for prayer
Introductions as needed
11:00 The Experience of the Church.
Introduction to material of the day.
Followed by the work of the session.
Sessions will include small and large group exercises
12:45 Break for lunch when the group reaches a logical stopping point.
This “free time” is an important time for getting to know one another.
1:30 Resume where we left off
2:30 Tea and refreshment break
2:45 Application of today’s material to pastoral ministry
Closing prayer and conclusion
First Session: Looking back at the last session (about 1 hour)
Check in and greetings all around including news from our lives
- What new questions did the material in this session raise for you?
- What new insights about ministry did you gain, looking back now from 4 weeks later?
- What gave you hope? What frustrated you?
- How can you see this material being applied within your parish?
Second Session: Looking forward to our next session (about 1 hour)
- Check in and greetings all around including news from our lives
- A brief introduction to the next session from the assigned facilitator
- Possible invitation to read and reflect on the scripture story used in the Ignatian prayer at the opening and closing
- Discussion about the next topic to be determined and facilitated by the assigned facilitator
- Review the reading assignment which should always be read before the session
- Possibly offer some suggestions for other reading
Areas of Study Year One:
- Pastoral Leadership
- Methods for Using Scripture effectively in pastoral ministry
- Missionaries of compassion and mercy
- The Ministry of Accompaniment at Liturgy and through Pastoral Care
Areas of Study Year Two:
- The Qualities of Holiness
- Catholic Parishes that Reflect Jesus’ Style of Servant Leadership
- Faith Formation in the Whole Community and Accompaniment as the Method
- Summary of the Clifton Ministry Skills Sessions
Course 2021 – 2023:
St Osmund's, Salisbury
St George, Taunton
St Luke's, Wincanton
St Osmund's, Salisbury
St Aldhelm, Malmesbury
Forest of Dean Churches