Developing Pastoral Support

by Pastoral Support Team

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The ‘spirit’ is the vital animating essence of a person, and we endeavour to nourish this divine centre of each person we reach out to in our care. The pastoral support team ministry is a vital part of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary/Muiriosa Foundation organisation’s ethos when addressing the holistic needs of the people in our service.

The core pastoral support team is made up of a coordinator, service user, parents and staff members from across the organisation. It is concerned with supporting and nourishing the spiritual dimension of each individual and the community. While in the first instance the main accent will be on the service users and their families the pastoral support team is there for everybody. Its role includes support for staff and volunteer workers across the organisation.

Pastoral support is an organizational objective, which relies on the commitment of staff as individuals and as teams. It is not identified with any single role but it is central to the service we provide and there is a pastoral dimension to all aspects of our work. Every moment has a dimension beyond the obvious.

During the Corporate Induction days all new staff has input on Pastoral Support work and its relevance in our relationships to the people we serve and work with.

Our lives are linked by our search for meaning and understanding in life. This task alone is a huge undertaking for anyone, so we need each other’s support and that is where Pastoral Support fits into the ongoing journey of those entrusted to our care.

The pastoral support team plays a significant role in underscoring our identity as a voluntary organisation whose roots rest within the Christian tradition. It has a huge potential to enhance awareness of our distinctive ethos, which we believe watermarks the way we go about carrying out mission.

An organisation’s ethos is:
  • a set of guiding beliefs
  • is dyed-in-the-wool
  • is key constituent of the atmosphere in a place?
Services and Programmes:

This encompasses various aspects of Pastoral Support:

  • We cover the various religious services throughout the year.
  • Sacrament of the sick.
  • Reconciliation and healing services.
  • Celebration of feast days that are important to us.
  • Reflection for the seasons of Lent, Advent, Christmas and Easter.
  • Blessing of the hands.
  • Blessing of homes and new services.
  • Services of remembrance and blessing of graves.
  • Group reflection in community homes by request of the service users.
  • Working closely with local clergy.

The Pastoral Support Team meets on a regular basis:

  • To plan for future celebrations and activities
  • To evaluate and share experience. Time is also set apart for team reflections. This helps to deepen relationships as well as nourish our spiritual life and develop a greater awareness of the needs of the people we serve. It is thus we are more attentive and creative in relation to those needs

Being open to all faiths and no faith:
We are also open to the representatives of other faiths and offer them our full support in caring for persons in our trust.

Pastoral Support Vision Statement

As a Service
We will support the life
Of Christian values
And the value of other
Faith traditions.
Acknowledging each other
As Spiritual Beings,
We will work together
In a spirit of love and joy
Conscious of
The Sacred trust placed in us.

Our organisation has developed a pastoral support vision statement to underpin our work with those we serve. The vision statement is distributed to all areas (e.g. Community homes, day services etc.) throughout the organisation.

Our task is to support the other in their experiences of life and in doing so help them to find their Spiritual goal. This is not so easy, as we all know that each of our lives is full of baggage, broken dreams, silent pain, and the hurts caused by human failure of our own and others.

Fear makes us vulnerable and often prevents us from being able to reach out for assistance, it blocks out the very thing that can heal us. Our Pastoral support team will join service users and staff in their ordinary everyday settings – recognising each one’s dignity sharing their joys and sufferings, offering a listening ear and companionship in times of stress and loss.

The ideal is to be able to see the goodness of God in each person we encounter on our journey through life. This ideal challenges us to see beyond the physical and intellectual stereotypes in our society.

Spirituality is not an easy concept to grasp; it is difficult to see beyond the ‘religious’ and the ‘God’ language used so often in today’s world. Spirituality is all about the Spirit within each and every one of us. It is beyond one’s faith, beyond one’s race or culture.

The Vision Statement of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary expresses it well when it states:
“Our Community strives to radiate joy and hope aware that every person is unique and precious. We are called to empower each other and to be a healing presence, in our broken world.”

Conscious of the sacred trust placed in us we try and be that healing presence with people who cannot always communicate their needs and desires. However we never pass by anyone just because communication may be difficult, for everyone carries the ‘goodness of God within’. Difficulty in communication does not prevent us from reverencing the God given sacredness of each person.

Bearing witness to and honouring the personal and spiritual value and dignity of each individual with a disability lies at the core of our work and commitment.

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