It was a privilege to attend the Pastoral Care Training last September, facilitated by Virginia Battiste. The workshop was attended by 20 fellow parishioners from Holy Family Parish in Medicine Hat. Virginia Battiste, the facilitator, possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Diploma in Elementary Education, and a Master's of Theological Studies with a major in Pastoral Counseling.
Role playing opportunities to practice newly acquired listening skills that focused on paying attention to another’s feelings rather than focusing simply on the facts, was incredibly beneficial for me.
One of the takeaways from the Training was learning the four rules of Pastoral Care: 1) it's not about me, 2) Not to go in with my own or any agenda, 3) I'm not there to fix or solve problems, 4) it's all about the person I am visiting, hearing their story, so they know they matter to me.
During the role-playing exercises, it was fascinating to see how easily and naturally we all slipped into trying to "fix" things by offering advice. Virginia did an excellent job of helping us recognize this problem-solving mentality. She guided us towards realizing when we were focusing on the other person's facts rather than their feelings. Once again, Pastoral Care emphasizes listening for feelings, not facts.
Upon reflection, my favorite part of the weekend was the discussion on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). This topic highlighted Virginia's exceptional knowledge and passion. Her passion for helping Catholics understand their faith and the Church's teachings regarding assisted suicide led to an impassioned exhortation to stand up for what we believe. to be counter cultural, and to be faithful to the teachings of our faith.
We are blessed with rich biblical teaching on the sanctity of life and redemptive suffering. It is never permissible to intentionally end a human life, one's own or another. In today's society, this is not a popular stance, but throughout history, the Catholic Church has taken unpopular stances. We must be strong in the Lord and stand for truth and the sanctity of life.
Written by Valerie Dykstra, a pastoral care minister and parishioner of Holy Family, Medicine Hat.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers