The sickness and death of a Christian is a significant event in the life of a parish community. It is for this reason the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle offers 'Stepping Stones', a formation process for parishioners who work in association with their parish priest to minister with the sick, dying and bereaved.
Stepping Stones is a parish-based formation process recommended for parishioners who are or who wish to become involved in:
- bereavement groups
- pastoral visits and other ministries with the dying or bereaved.
Stepping Stones is a requirement for parishioners who are or wish to become involved in:
- assisting in the preparation of vigils, funerals and related rites
- leading vigils, funerals and related rites should this need be identified.
Stepping Stones runs in response to requests from parishes. The formation is grounded in the presumption of a team approach to this ministry.
A brief overview of the Stepping Stones formation process can be seen below.
Stepping Stones Flexible Delivery
Recently Stepping Stones formation has been delivered more flexibly.
Step I We Grieve runs in parishes which request Stepping Stones formation. These workshops are run by Seasons for Growth.
Step II We Minister. Focuses on becoming a pastoral minister. To complete this step participants are asked to undertake an Introductory Clinical Pastoral Education Unit. These are run by the Hunter Centre for Clinical Pastoral Education. This is followed by a Stepping Stones workshop.
Step III, We Pray Together is offered when needed and when there is a viable cohort. It is open to anyone who is preparing for parish ministry with the dying and bereaved, whether or not they have completed steps I and II outlined above. Also welcome are existing bereavement ministers who would like to refresh their understanding of the Order of Christian Funerals and anyone who, for personal reasons, is interested in exploring the Church's funeral rites. Please note this formation involves a willingness to undertake a serious study of the Order of Christian Funerals. There is essential pre-reading.
A handbook outlining the flexible approach to Stepping Stones is being developed.