PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish


March, 2020


                Parents mentor their children, teachers mentor their students, professionals mentor apprentices, Jesus mentored his disciples.  People with knowledge, experi-ence, wisdom and insight help and guide those seeking growth and maturity.  The parish is one place where this happens.  Colleen Campbell and Thomas Carani of the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington, DC have published The Art of Accompaniment: Theological, Spiritual and Practical Elements of Building a More Relational Church. (

Where It Happens

            We are both mentors and mentored throughout our lives.  In the parish this dynamic takes place on many levels and in many areas.  Walking with people through sacramental formation is one place this happens.  A child is born and the parents participate in a pre-baptism program that affirms their responsibility to raise their daughter or son as a beloved of God.  The child grows and encounters many mentors who help, guide and nurture the person through Confirmation, marriage preparation, perhaps joining a ministry, dealing with transitions and culminating in being helped through sickness and aging.  In other words, ours is a life-long journey that is made easier when there are individuals or groups willing to walk with us, hold our hand, share a story, give advice and simply listen to our feelings and desires.  These companions on the journey may not be parish-related, but it helps when a parish community and its leadership is available if someone seeks assistance, guidance and support.

Good Mentors

            Jesus was one, as revealed in the Resurrection stories.  Two despondent disciples are on their way to Emmaus.  Jesus comes along side, first listening to their experience of loss and despair, then explaining the scriptures and finally sharing a meal.  It was an encounter of discovery.  Mary Magdalene was another, rushing back to the upper room to spread the Good News, acting as a mentor to the stricken gathering.  St. Paul was one to the community in Corinth.  He admitted he was not a very good speaker, but “I have made myself all things to all people in order to save at least some of them.” (I Cor. 9:22).  In our present day, we are blessed to have Pope Francis as a humble mentor who cajoles and challenges us to reach out to the poor and needy. 

            In our personal lives we can recall a parent, family member or friend, teacher or colleague, pastor or church member who made a big difference when we needed it, helping us through crises, affirming our self worth, encouraging our dreams, loving us despite our failings, remaining a faithful, caring mentor.

Forming A Culture

            In a parish, accompaniment happens in many hidden and unknown ways.  It would be helpful to shine a light on these occurrences and give them the attention they deserve.  This could begin with the pastor, staff and lay leaders identifying the many relationships formed between mentors and those being accompanied.  They might explore where this is happening in worship, community-building, formation, ministries, outreach and administration, even where it happens among the staff and leaders themselves.  Start making connections between these individual relationships so they become known as an essential ingredient of what it means to be a parish of kindness, inclusiveness and affirmation.  Then make this reality known throughout the parish community, encouraging everyone to expand this mentoring culture so that both the helpers and those who are looking for accompaniment are given the support and encouragement they need and desire.