...bring good tidings to the afflicted

...build up the broken hearted

...proclaim liberty to captives and the opening up of prison to those who are bound.

...Isaiah 61:1

"The Art" of Pastoral Care?

"Is pastoral care an art? Yes! The substance of the art is found within yourself as you discover your own gifts and use them in very simple yet profound ways. The art of pastoral care is a training process in discovering the most human part of ourselves in order that we can assist others to discover and share their own full humanity."

— Rev. Don Lowe
Associate Teacher, the Art of Pastoral Care

Listening with More than Ears

How often in conversations, even with those we love, do we hear the other focusing on her/his own interior dialogue rather than the one between us?

Listening in pastoral caregiving is more than attentiveness. Listening includes awareness of the sacredness of relationship, the existence of the holy within both of us, the acknowledgement of frailty and sin within each of us and the willingness to place the Other first. Listening is an opening to the possibility of healing, forgiveness, growth, potential and reintegration. Real listening is using our external and internal senses to respectfully enter into anotherís hurt, sorrow, incompleteness and joy.

We begin by listening to ourselves. In the Art of Pastoral Care we practice listening and being listened to in celebration of the gift that is being-with.

— Beth DeCristofaro
Director, the Art of Pastoral Care

Simple Presence

In the Art of Pastoral Care [AoPC], the term 'Simple Presence' is frequently used. But, what does it mean, exactly? Is it my simple unencumbered presence or is it God's presence? In Judaism it is understood that "God Himself ministers to the sick, and the Divine Presence rests upon the patient's bed." [Fred Rosner, Modern Medicine and Jewish Ethics] As we visit with those who are in physical, emotional or spiritual crisis, it is important to remember that we are not the only ones ministering to those troubled and suffering. God is also with them in the midst of their trials and tribulations. The presence of God is palpable and powerful when I enter onto the sacred ground of a person's pain.

As Pastoral Care Givers, we are given permission to enter into some of the most tender places of a person's soul. It is important to treat that permission with care and respect as we attempt to provide a safe space where there is a reflection of God's love and mercy in an attitude of blessing and forgiveness.

When we are allowed to be present, in that sacred place of a person's suffering, our 'Simple Presence' is the most important gift. Within that presence we are to listen and really hear what is said and what is left unsaid. We are simply to share the burden and, with the help of God's Divine Presence, help to make the bearing of the burden a little less difficult.

The AoPC teaches helpful techniques, but the 'art' cannot be taught or created where it does not already exist. The experiential nature of the AoPC curriculum helps to provide those already entrusted with the gift the opportunity to become aware of the special 'art' or gift that exists within them. The class allows the opportunity for people to refine their skills and learn how to use the God given treasure with which they have been entrusted.

— Deaconess Kathy Garrison
Former Director & Teacher, the Art of Pastoral Care

Empowering and teaching Pastoral Care Specialists since 1972
© Kathy Garrison, 2010