Pastoral Assistant


1 Training in the Parish

The parish priest will provide support, encouragement and development for the training of Pastoral Assistants (PAs). This will be through discussion, reflection and sharing of appropriate experiences and scenarios. The parish (or Local Ministry Area)) may have a Parish Ministry Team, which will also be involved in the training.

Some questions to consider with the Parish:

  • What is pastoral work?
  • Are there safeguarding issues for children or vulnerable adults?
  • What is the purpose of a Pastoral Assistant from a church?
  • How are introductions made?
  • What is confidential and when should information be shared?
  • Where does prayer fit within the visit?
  • What is good listening?
  • How are visits recorded and shared?

2 Training in the Diocese

To provide further, broader training of PAs; this gives an opportunity to share experiences and offer on-going support and encouragement.

Examples of questions addressed at Diocesan level training:

  • What is the difference between a pastoral conversation and a chat?
  • What are the pitfalls of a pastoral conversation?
  • How have you developed your listening skills?
  • How do you handle confidential information?
  • Where is the place of prayer in a pastoral conversation?
  • What do you say to the recently bereaved?
  • How do you communicate with those who find it hard to talk?
  • Is your supervision adequate and is there an opportunity for reflection?
  • Why bother with evaluation and feedback?
  • What further training can be offered?

3 Personal Development Plan

It is important the PA and parish priest meet regularly to discuss progress and further training. The Lay Development Group can provide a member to facilitate the training process. This will take place during and after training and will offer an opportunity to reflect on the learning achieved as well as identify areas which need further discussion or training support.

The plan will be written between the PA and priest and should be reviewed on a regular basis. The Diocesan Lay Development Group member is available to give guidance or offer support both to the PA and the Priest if any queries arise.

4 Commissioning and letter of Authorisation

Once the PA has been trained to a mutually acceptable standard of confidence and competency the parish priest will:

  • Seek acceptance of the candidate from the PCC
    • Arrange for a Commissioning. An order is available from the Director of Ministry.
    • Send a letter to the Bishop to advise that the candidate has been commissioned.
    • The Bishop will write a letter of Authorisation to the candidate.