They are people who are trained to walk alongside others with a listening ear, especially in times of particular need.
They may specialise in:
- Hospital visiting
- Supporting relationships, marriage and family life
- Support for children, young people and their parents
- Support during bereavement
- Support to those in later life and their carers
- Support for those coping with physical or mental health issues
Pastoral Assistants are Christians with a certain amount of life experience and a mature faith. Pastoral Assistants have a flexible approach and are able to be sensitive to problems that are presented to them. They do so with the support of their Incumbents and PCC, to whom they are accountable, and they are able to work collaboratively as part of a team to serve those living in their parish.
Who do they serve?
The Parishioner. Take a look at any Parish. You’ll see many people who would like someone to talk to. Very often they do not want to bother the clergy, but would appreciate a 'listening ear'.
The Clergy. An Incumbent often needs someone to assist with Pastoral work.
Who trains Pastoral Assistants?
The diocese recognises that it has a responsibility to train those who feel called to PA Ministry and so each year it runs a Foundation Course.
The Pastoral Assistants' Foundation Course
There are two phases to the course, over one year. Students work in groups, learning together, sharing experience and practising skills.
Pastoral Assistants are authorised by the Bishop at a service held in the Cathedral.
More information about the Pastoral Assistant Foundation Course is available here.
You will need to:
- Pray about it
- Seek the view of your Incumbent
More information about the application process is available here.
If you decide to go further your Incumbent should apply for the Course Brochure from:
Authorised Pastoral Assistants
Canon Maggie Marsh is responsible for all Pastoral Assistants once they have been authorised and Maggie organises the Annual Training Day.