By Bishop Donald Hying
In December 2015, I submitted an endorsement letter to accompany a grant application by the NACC seeking Raskob Foundation support for a planning activity among several Catholic ministry associations to strengthen the Church’s pastoral care ministry. Two years later, I was so pleased to report to Raskob that its $30,000 planning grant was not only deeply appreciated, but it supported a remarkable collaboration among more than 20 leaders in pastoral care to develop consensus competencies for the ministry and to commit to establish a network of national resources and training for the thousands of men and women who provide pastoral care in diverse settings in the name of the Church.
From the first gathering of these leaders in the fall of 2016, it was clear that such focused attention to pastoral care as a ministry of the Church was unprecedented and comes at a critical time. While the Church so aptly highlighted in Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord the vital leadership roles of lay people in parishes and dioceses in the Church, those providing a pastoral care ministry to the most vulnerable, the ill, the aging, the dying, the imprisoned, the refugee in non-parochial settings have received less attention. Training programs and resources vary from diocese to diocese, and no national standards or models have existed.
Now, with the jumpstart provided by this planning process, we have a consensus document on what competencies are required to provide such care; several examples of good programs; and a strong commitment among the partners to continue their work together.
The NACC leadership is convinced that this initiative aligns well with its mission to “continue the healing ministry of Jesus in the name of the Church.” The NACC Episcopal Advisory Council also is very supportive of NACC’s leadership. We are grateful to all our NACC members who contribute to their own dioceses’ pastoral care training of lay, deacons, religious, and priests. Thank you!
Bishop Donald Hying is the bishop of Gary, IN, and the episcopal liaison to the NACC.