May I Sit with You Awhile?

Practicing the Basic Arts of Pastoral Care

This course is designed to prepare visitors for the Ministry of Pastoral Care in the Church. It offers pastoral care visitors the opportunity to learn and practice the basics of pastoral visiting and focuses on the needs of the people receiving care. Six workshops feature a combination of information and hands-on practice: Defining Pastoral Care; Pastoral Care Visiting; Developing Listening Skills; Grief & Loss, Ethics; Professionalism & Administration; Spiritual Practices in Pastoral Care.


Rev. Kenn Balzer

Kenn Balzer is an ordained minister and also has a teaching certificate and is busy ministering in his local church as a guest speaker, worship leader, and small group leader.

He has spent the last 12½ years as a chaplain with Carewest in both the hospice and long term care settings. Previously, he spent 16 years in pastoral ministry and is the past president of the Alberta Pastoral Care Association, Calgary chapter, and is currently president of Christian Pastoral Caregivers Association centered in Calgary.

Kenn has taken specific training at the Center for Loss & Life Transition, in Ft. Collins, CO, in the area of pastoral care at end-of-life and has attended numerous seminars on the subject. Kenn also facilitates the Companioning at End-of-Life program offered through CPCA and The Centre for Pastoral Care Education at Rocky Mountain College.

Kenn presents the workshops entitled Pastoral Care Visiting and Loss & Grief.

Rev. Nancy Cowtun, CSCP

Nancy Cowtun is an ordained minister with the Congregational Christian Churches in Calgary, and received a Master of Divinity from Prairie Graduate School in Calgary.

Nancy was a Chaplain at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary for eight years and at Santuari Hospice for five years. She is currently the Chaplain at Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.

Nancy is a Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner through the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care. She has practised the art of spiritual care with people who experience issues related to end of life, mental health, cancer diagnosis and treatment, infant loss, and various other forms of loss and grief.

Nancy is involved in the Stephen Ministry program in her home church as a Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader.

Nancy presents the workshops entitled Developing Pastoral Listening Skills and Spiritual Practices in the Ministry of Pastoral Care.

Rev. Deacon Michael Soentgerath

Michael Soentgerath is originally from Cologne, Germany. In 1977 he started his theological training with the Society of the Catholic Apostolate in Germany. He went on to continue studies in philosophy and theology at the University of Waterloo and Newman College in Edmonton and completed his studies at the Theological College of the Pallottines, in Germany in 1984. That same year Michael began his pastoral work in Calgary at Holy Spirit Parish. Since then he has worked in many Calgary parishes and for the Catholic School Board on a High School Chaplaincy Team. He is currently the Diocesan Director of the Religious Education Secretariat and the Health Care Apostolate for the diocese. Michael is currently the deacon at St. Bernadette Parish.

Michael is married to Chris Brochu, Principal at Father Lacombe High School Calgary.

Michael presents the workshops entitled Scriptural and Theological Basis of Defining Pastoral Care and Defining Pastoral Care, Basic Communications Skills & Boundaries.


Pastoral Care Visiting

A pastoral care visitor has to be aware of one’s self, one’s own spiritual journey, in order to accompany others on their journey. People assume they know where others are at, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going. We will focus on principles of pastoral care, various types of ministries, and the practice of pastoral care.

Developing Pastoral Listening Skills

We will define the pastoral skill of listening; explore attending behaviours and listening skills. We will practice listening skills and attending behaviours.

Reflection: Can I commit to visiting someone who needs a companion?

Scriptural and Theological Basis of Defining Pastoral Care

Pastoral Care is an invitation from God to participate in “shepherding God’s people”. We will explore: the names of our God; our vocation/call; the primary distinction between a social visit and a Pastoral Care visit; and what it means to be ”the Mystical Body of Christ”.

Loss & Grief

We will focus on:
The definition, kinds and various effects of loss;
The definition of grief;
The 5 myths about grief (Alan Wolfelt);
The factors that impact the expression of grief;
The personal experience with grief and loss;
and misinformation about grief and the grieving process.

Spiritual Practices in the Ministry of Pastoral Care

We will explore the value of spiritual practices in pastoral care; pray with and for one another; and renew our commitment to personal spiritual practices/disciplines.

Defining Pastoral Care, Basic Communications Skills & Boundaries

We will explore and dialogue on a definition of pastoral care; the ministry of presence; signs of spiritual problems and spiritual health; and effective communication and visiting skills.

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