From the diocesan Committee on Mental Health.
Follow-up to the January 2013 Council presentation by Marleen McCabe and Jennifer Sassin.

“Care of the sick must rank above and before all else so they may truly be served as Christ, who said, ‘I was sick and you visited me,’ (Matt. 25:36)…”
(The Rule of Benedict, Chapter 36)

Pastoral care is how clergy and lay people answer the call to minister to each other—taking the love of Christ to one another through the ups and downs of life.  Community of Hope encourages and equips laity to share with clergy in the ministry of pastoral care. Trained lay chaplains complement and support clergy in consistently and compassionately meeting the many and varied pastoral care needs of a parish community: loss, grief, illness, life changes, loneliness, isolation, to name a few.

The Community of Hope, established in 1994 in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and in 2005 at Pohick Episcopal Church, is rooted in the ageless principles of the Rule of St. Benedict and sustained by clinical pastoral practices. Laity is inspired to work toward balance and harmony in prayer, worship, silence, holy reading, and serving others while building a community centered on spiritual encouragement, grace, comfort, healing, and hope.

hopeUpon completion of the initial 14-week, 42-hour curriculum, trainees are commissioned as lay chaplains who “listen with the ear of the heart” while being present to those in need. The ministry of presence is a gift of grace to both care receivers and caregivers. The roots of community deepen in monthly Circle of Care gatherings in which lay chaplains strengthen their pastoral care skills through continuing education programs and come together to pray, share and provide each other with mutual support and encouragement.

The Community of Hope is committed to pastoral care within the context of spiritual growth. The updated training curriculum as outlined below invites those who are interested in pastoral care to participate in a continuous process of self examination, reflection and action rooted in St. Benedict spirituality.

Benedictine Spirituality Understanding Family Systems
Theology of Pastoral Care Grief: Coping with Loss
Pastoral Identity Pastoral Care for Seniors
Listening Skills Second Practice Visit
Prayer, Christian Meditation, and Silence Care for the Caregiver
Motivational Spiritual Gifts Commitment to Ministry
The Pastoral Visit and Boundaries

First Practice Visit

Confidentiality and Debriefing

The Community of Hope model can be applied in a variety of ministries, including outreach to the community, ministry to the homebound, nursing homes, hospices, retirement communities, prisons, hospitals and rehabilitation centers, women’s ministries, youth and children’s ministries, outreach to the homeless and underserved, and in support of mission trips and community centers. It is active in large and small congregations as well as rural communities, many of whom form cluster groups for training and ongoing support.

Community of Hope pastoral care visits take place at the direction of clergy. Lay chaplains serve two-by-two, honoring their commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the visit, reporting to clergy following the visit, and debriefing with another trained Community of Hope person, ideally within the first 24-hours of a visit. Debriefing allows the lay chaplain to pause for self-reflection and discussion of the pastoral care visit in terms of his/her response to the situation he/she encountered. In turn, honest self-examination increases self-knowledge and allows the lay chaplain/pastoral caregiver an opportunity to reflect on the pastoral care visit from a spiritual, faith-based perspective.

The Rev. Dr. Donald Binder is rector of Pohick Church. “What distinguishes the Community of Hope from other Pastoral Care groups is its ordering around the Rule of St. Benedict,” said Binder. “And so ministry in the Community is not just about doing for God; it is about being with God. That’s essential for this type of ministry, since it entails a lot of emotional involvement that can quickly lead to burn-out. The emphasis of the Community on group and individual prayer—in addition to study and service—helps to sustain the members of the Community, as well as to draw them closer to God and each other.”

The Rev. Donald D. Binder, PhD., Rector, Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, Virginia

Interested in starting a Community of Hope?
If you are interested in finding out more about Community of Hope or want to begin a new Community of Hope center, go to the Community of Hope International (COHI) website or contact Jennifer Sassin, Community of Hope lay chaplain, Pohick Episcopal Church, and COHI regional representative for the Atlantic Region at

Join the COHI 16th Annual Conference, June 5–7, 2013
You are also invited to attend the COHI 16th Annual Conference to be held at Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas on June 5–7, 2013.

The conference theme is: St. Benedict’s Path to Wholeness. Over the course of the busyness of daily life and the many challenges that pastoral care work presents, one loses sight of the holy. The COHI conference is an opportunity to revisit our call to pastoral care ministry and explore how we approach and do this ministry and ways to deepen our relationship with God through all we do. Online registration –   The keynote speaker, The Rev. Jane Tomaine, is a well-known retreat leader and author of St. Benedict’s Toolbox, The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living. For more information go to the following website at

Posted by The Diocese


  1. Mr. Lorenzo F. Acebuche August 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I thank God that you have this kind of ministry. The Christian community needs the support of the laity to meet their needs because we have a very limited clergymen. I was tasked by our parish priest to create a pastoral care program but I have very limited materials and references about this. I know you can help me lot by giving me basic information, basic topics, Pastoral care basic seminar manual and other related reading materials.
    May God bless you always to minister for the lost, least, hurting brothers and sister in Christ.

    In Christ,
    Mr. Lorenzo F. Acebuche
    Guidance Counselor
    Dela Salle Araneta University
    Victoneta Ave, Malabon City


    1. Jennifer Sassin January 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Dear Mr. Acebuche,
      Community of Hope International finds great joy in providing you with the materials you need. Please contact me directly via email at so we may begin to forward information for beginning a Community of Hope ministry.

      Yours in Christ,

      Jennifer Sassin
      COHI Regional Representative, Atlantic Region
      COH Lay Chaplain, Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, VA


  2. […] most popular post on DioDocs since its inception is “Empowering the Laity for Pastoral Care” from the diocesan Committee on Mental Health. “Pastoral care is how clergy and lay people […]


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