Volunteers trained to visit

Over three Saturdays in February and March, 16 people undertook training to equip them as authorised volunteer visitors to parishioners in their homes, aged-care residences, or hospitals. Some participants have served, for many years, as Extra-ordinary Ministers of Communion for the sick.
Each participant, nominated on behalf of their parish, experienced a process of learning that included reflection on visiting experiences and development of skills in listening and responding to the needs of the person being visited.  Mr Dan Murphy was the presenter of the major part of the program which he developed with Spiritual Health Victoria (www.spiritualhealthvictoria.org.au/). 
Dan, who lives in Euroa, currently conducts CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) programs with the North East Victoria CPE Centre which he founded. Fr Tony Shallue enabled participants to deepen their understanding of what it means to be involved in a ministry on behalf of a parish and the wider Church community. Karen Lunney, Pastoral Care Services Manager at Bendigo Health, and Lynda Wyles, Co-ordinator of Pastoral Services at St John of God Hospital, shared practical insights and information for those who are hospital visitors.
Participants were also assisted by well-qualified volunteer ‘mentors’ who helped them to reflect on their pastoral visitation experiences. Prayer, reflection, a sample Parish Pastoral Care Visitors’ role description, guidelines for visiting homes and resources for the ministry of spiritual care were also key components of this training program.
A Certificate of Completion was awarded to the 16 course participants. It is in their parishes, however, that each Pastoral Care Visitor is officially ‘commissioned’ by their Parish Priest at Sunday Mass, as a Pastoral Care Visitor to be sent out on behalf of their parish.
As their ministry continues, Pastoral Care Visitors will be supported by their parishes, by experienced ‘mentors’ and by each other.– Lyn Breen, Adult Faith Education Sandhurst.

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