Username or Email Address
By Charles Russell, Psy.D.
Printable version (PDF)
The process of establishing and maintaining a peer support group of any kind can be challenging. There are unique considerations for priest support groups, including geographic distance, schedule challenges and day-to-day stressors of pastoral ministry. Taking the time to plan and design a support group that meets the participants’ needs can positively impact the group’s longevity and vitality as well as maximize the interpersonal and developmental benefits for the participants.
First, decide on the purpose of the support group. Examples include building fraternal relationships with peers, dealing with grief, stress, spiritual support, celibate chastity, anger, emotional competence, pastoral issues, or administrative skill building. Then discuss group leadership, format and other logistical considerations:
Member roles and responsibilities are also important to address. Below are some examples of different roles and responsibilities for group members:
Finally, it is essential to develop some simple guidelines to establish clear expectations for participation, such as:
Considerations for group discussion and interaction
Ongoing evaluation and feedback
A circumstance may arise that requires outside consultation. In this case, the assigned point of contact should communicate the nature of the request and severity of the issue with diocesan or community leadership.
Bennett, A. and Bennett, L. (2011). The Emotions God Gave You. Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press.
Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. S. (1992). Boundaries: When to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Harshman, N. F. (1992). Learn Your Story, Find Your Power: Using Emotional Awareness to Enrich Your Self and Your Relationships. St. Meinrad, IN: Abbey Press.
Lencioni, P. (2004). Death by Meeting. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Middleton-Moz, J. (1990). Shame and Guilt: Masters of Disguise. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.
Neal, A. and Neal, P. (2011). The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Powell, J. (1998). Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? Insights into Personal Growth. Allen, TX: RCL Benzinger.
Wick, R. J. (2015). Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books.
Young, A. (Producer). The Place We Find Ourselves [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/adam-young/the-place-we-find-ourselves
* Confidentiality may be limited, however, in accordance with locally mandated reporting laws, in cases such as expressions of intent to harm self or others, or child/elder abuse or neglect.
Practical tips for healthy ministry
View all articles
In-depth articles and case studies written by Saint Luke Institute experts
8901 New Hampshire Avenue | Silver Spring, Maryland 20903 | www.sli.org
St. Luke's Centre | Manchester, England | St. Luke's Centre
Saint Luke Center | Louisville, Kentucky | Saint Luke Center
St. Luke Consultation Center | St. Louis, Missouri | St. Luke Consultation Center
© 2012-2020 Saint Luke Institute