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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Anna Chaplaincy training reviewed and highly rated

Revd Dr Paul Fitzpatrick, a prospective Anna Chaplain from north Devon, tells of his experience of Anna Chaplaincy training:

I have come from a university chaplaincy where team members were dual-theologically trained and held doctorates in Psychology or Psychotherapy. We had responsibility for emergency response, sudden death and bereavement, cultural cohesion (92 religions from 126 countries), research, prevention and faith as an expression of human rights. New team members underwent a three-month training development inclusive of those who held the Chaplaincy MTh. Anna Chaplaincy training was quite different.

This process permitted a changed view of chaplaincy for me, one that was more focused upon a person-centred, slower and invested process. I followed the course in all respects, including preparation and post-session review and read most of the books/articles on the recommended list; given my professional background I did not however feel that I would be challenged by the training; I could not have been more wrong.

© Alejandro Escamilla from Unsplash

During the six weeks, my cohort formed a block of trusted friends and fellow learners. They were bright, spiritual, fun and incredibly diverse, coming from across the theological perspective (we all now intend to remain in touch). The design and depth that the course engendered helped us to bond, and the trust and engagement that would have, in my former chaplaincy, have taken months to establish, was formed and functioning in the first two weeks.

This theological interdependence allowed for honesty and vulnerabilities to be expressed, as well as a good deal of positivity and laughter! The material is uniquely formed and took us across a range of experiences and engagements. My own limited experience with third- and fourth-agers was enhanced, but each of us grew differently, within our own educational, theological and physical contexts. This was seriously impressive, given how different we all were.

The handbook, training manual, recommended reading and session preparation and review, are superbly structured and positively lay the cognitive ground required to engage the sessions. The trainer, and guest chaplains, are what really made this work for me though: gentle but completely professional, they provided an environment that safely provided a space into which we could spiritually grow and test our calling. I found, to my surprise, that I had to face some serious challenges, and needed to change, slow down and reflect a lot more; I was not alone, and many of us changed our way of practising ministry.

In summary, the course material is exceptional and clearly frequently reviewed, updated and contemporised. The six-week structure, buffeted by online sessions, preparation, review and action recording, is excellent. Safeguarding, confidentiality, professional practice, chaplaincy identity, and crucially, working within and for, an older population, is professionally covered and competently delivered. The sum though is more than the parts: this training has prepared me, and my course fellows, to engage professionally and safely, in all the complex forms of Anna Chaplaincy ministry.

Revd Dr Paul Fitzpatrick BA MTh PGCE FHEA MSc PhD CPsychol


We are so grateful to Paul for writing about his experience of our training provision, as someone who has vast experience in this area, and for his resounding endorsement. We are immensely proud of being able to provide such high-quality training and resources for the Anna Chaplaincy network, and such affirmation is well-deserved by Julia, our training and development lead. Thank you, Paul!




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