A North Yorkshire parishioner’s experiences while studying for a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry have spurred her on to volunteer as a bereavement counsellor.

The course is a customised professional development programme offered by Loyola University Chicago in partnership with the Archdiocese of Liverpool and dioceses in the north of England and Wales.

Our diocese has secured funding to enable others to take the course and is inviting people who may be interested to find out more.

Marion Cuthill read about the certificate on the parish newsletter at St Leonard and St Mary’s in Malton, where she is a Eucharistic Minister, and says she couldn’t think about anything else during Mass.   

“I felt the Holy Spirit was asking me to do it and I don’t know why yet!” says Marion. “It’s not academic, which will hopefully encourage more people to take part.

We have some reading and a short video each week of each module. We then post a 250-word answer to a question online and we read each others’ responses and write at least two replies, although most do more because the discussion gets quite lively.”

A former Samaritan, Marion is currently training for Cruse Bereavement Care and is hoping to assist with similar work in her parish.

“I’m a cradle Catholic and since my husband died 15 years ago I’ve done various courses, including a degree in psychology at Hull University when I was 60,” she says.

“It was the course, and lots of prayer, that helped me decide to volunteer for Cruse. I’m still not sure where the pastoral ministry course will lead me but I am drawn to helping people who have been bereaved.

“I also hope to look more at the Bible when the course is finished because we’ve only been able to scrape the surface but it’s whetted my appetite to find out more.”

This non-degree, non-credit programme offered over two years is designed to equip teachers, deacons, catechists and lay leaders with up-to-date knowledge, skills, and education for contemporary pastoral ministry.

It has ten six-week online modules, beginning in February 2019 and running until December 2020. Each module requires around 20 hours of online engagement, reading and reflection.

The modules are

1. What Is Pastoral Ministry?
2. God Who Reveals: Looking At The Old Testament
3. Christ And His Disciples: Looking At The New Testament
4. Missionary Disciples: The Story Of The Church In Britain
5. Vision Of The Church: Vatican II
6. Holiness And Wholeness: How We Grow As People Of Faith
7. Building A Fairer World: Catholic Social Teaching
8. Building Parish Communities
9. Making Connections: Catechesis As Sharing Faith Today
10. Serving And Leading: Skills And Strategies For Ministry

Three days are also set aside for participants to meet each other and the course co-ordinators face to face, along with time for prayer, reflection and creative engagement.

Participants must be serious about their own faith development, willing to serve in the local church and have competent computer skills.

A series of information sessions are being held, including two near our diocese, both on Saturday November 3.

10am for 10.30am to noon: SS William and Francis De Sales, Darlington, DL1 2NL.

2.30pm to 4pm: Hinsley Hall, 62 Headingley Lane, Leeds, LS6 2BX.

Please visit luc.edu/ips/Liverpool or contact Deacon Vince Purcell at adultformation@rcdmidd.org.uk for more details.

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