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Pastoral and Spiritual Care in a Multi-Faith Context: Reflecting, Respecting, Practising

Also offered at DP2/3/9722S (Online)

Content: This unit will focus on pastoral and spiritual care for persons, patients and families in a multi-faith, multi-disciplinary setting. A schedule of six immersion days plus a final plenary session will be implemented over a 5 month period. Six participating religious communities offer a program designed to maximise the participant’s experience of the practices and rituals of that faith group and their understanding of the needs of patients, family members and communities. The context of care will be hospitals, other healthcare facilities and faith communities during times of crisis, illness, suffering, death and dying. Areas of cultural differences within the practices of each faith group will be highlighted. Assessment tasks will evaluate these themes contextually, vocationally and theologically, develop guidelines for reflective practice as pastoral care practitioners in this setting and thus provide an opportunity for integrative reflection.

Learning outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a critical awareness of the multi-religious themes that influence current pastoral and spiritual care practice in hospital, healthcare and community settings;
  2. identify the ways in which a multi-religious setting influences the practice of pastoral care and reflect upon how this in turn influences their own practice of care;
  3. describe, evaluate pastorally and explore through theological reflection, the essential elements of care offered from a multi-faith perspective within community, faith and healthcare settings;
  4. articulate, theologically integrate and illustrate from within their own practice, belief and faith identity their responses to the diversity of beliefs and practice of individuals and families;
  5. (Level 3) demonstrate the ability to communicate in a team and group context their understanding of pastoral care interventions in a multi-cultural, multi-religious setting.
  6. (Postgraduate) apply learning and current research to a theological, pastoral and systemic critique of the context where they offer pastoral care.

Offered in second semester 2018. This unit is delivered online and includes two seminar days plus three student organised visits to faith communities.


Level 2:

Two Immersion Reports (Supervised) 1000 words each = 2000 words 50%
Critical Reading Journal 1000 words 25%
Integrative Essay 1000 words     25%

Level 3:
Three Immersion Reports (Supervised) 1000 words each = 3000 words 50%
Critical Reading Journal 1000 words 25%
Integrative Essay 1000 words     25%

Three Immersion Reports (Supervised) 1000 words each = 3000 words 50%
Critical Reading Journal 1500 words 25%
Integrative Essay 1500 words     25%

Prerequisites: DP Foundational Unit or equivalent
NOTE: An interview with references will precede admission to the unit.

Multi-faith Perspectives in Spiritual Care

Spiritual Health Victoria in partnership with Stirling Theological College and the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) have developed a project focused on multi-faith perspectives in spiritual care. This program will offer practitioners (selected by interview) of spiritual care in healthcare and community contexts an opportunity to experience 6 faith traditions through a day’s immersion in their communities and culture. The focus lies on spiritual responses from within each tradition to end-of-life care, crisis and transition, grief and loss.

SHV’s Capabilities Framework sets out a requirement that practitioners will have integrative studies in world religions (not a globalised theological understanding) as part of their education and formation for their work in spiritual care. There are few courses offered in tertiary programs of study which meet this requirement, and this is why we have set this project in place. Participants will move towards meeting this requirement in the Capabilities Framework through this unit of study.

Partner faith organisations in this project are: the Buddhist Council of Victoria (BCV), the Hindu Community Council of Victoria (HCCV), the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), the Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy Council, and the Sikh Interfaith Council (SIC). Each will arrange a day-long program, hosted by communities within their tradition, aimed at giving participants the opportunity to explore culturally, spiritually and theologically an experience of their life and culture that supports and assists them

  • in appreciating the spiritual resources the tradition offers its members when they are unwell, in transition or crisis, or facing loss through bereavement and
  • in identifying indicators for referral for specific support when required and pathways for such referral.

Participants will be asked to write a paper after each of these days, reflecting on their learning and how they have integrated this into their practice. In addition to the prescribed assignments there will be a plenary session at the end of the project, for integration and review, with a panel representing all 6 traditions.

Co-ordinating Team: Chris Turner (UD and Heather Tan (SHV) with –

David Marlow – Executive Director, Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Mr Daniel Bellis – Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy Council of Victoria
Rev’d Bhakta Dasa – General Secretary, Hindu Community Council of Victoria
Venerable Hojun Futen Osho – Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, Buddhist Council of Victoria
Lina Ayoubi – Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, Islamic Council of Victoria
Mr Jasbir Singh Suropada – Vice Chair, Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria

Recommended reading

Anderson, R. Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament: A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003.
Augsburger, David W. Pastoral Counselling Across Cultures, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.
Bowker, John. Problems of Suffering in Religions of the World. London: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
Bouma, Gary. Being Faithful in Diversity: Religion and Social Policy in Multi-faith Societies. Hindmarsh,South Australia: Australasian Theological Forum, 2011.
Cobb M., Puchalski, C. & Rumbold, B. (Eds). Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Evans, A. Is God Still at the Bedside? The Medical, Ethical, and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.
Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation: The Family Process in Church and Synagogue. New York: The Guilford Press, 1985.
Kellehear, Allan. Compassionate Cities: Public Health and End of Life Care. London: Routledge, 2005.
Musgrave, B, and McGettigan, N. Spiritual and Psychological Aspects of Illness: Dealing with Sickness, Loss, Dying and Death, New York: Paulist, 2010.
Puchalski, C. Making Healthcare Whole: Integrating Spirituality into Healthcare, W. Conschocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2010.
Roberts, Stephen (ed.) Professional, Spiritual and Pastoral Care: A Practical Clergy and Chaplain’s Handbook, Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2012.
Schipani, D., & Bueckert, L. (eds) Interfaith Spiritual Care: Understandings and Practices,           Kitchener, Ontario, Pandora Press, 2009.
Sorajjakool, S., & Lamberton, H. – Spirituality Health and Wholeness: An Introductory Guide for Health  Professionals, Binghampton, NY: Haworth Press, 2004.
Sorajjakool, S., Carr, M. & Nam, J. (Eds) – World Religions for Healthcare Professionals, London: Routledge, 2009.
Wingate, A.  Celebrating Difference, Staying Faithful: How to Live in a Multi-faith World. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005

Special Note: Each tradition provides relevant texts and readings for participants.