Ministry Supervision Formation: Celebrating past and present and future life in the University

On Tuesday 8 December Stirling Theological College held an online event to acknowledge and celebrate the development of the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Supervision from its oversight to that of the University as a whole. Dr Alan Niven highlighted the pioneering work of Dr Michael Smith SJ and Bernadette Miles from Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in developing the original course for the first cohort of Spiritual Direction Supervisors in 2009.

The Graduate Certificate in Supervision (Spiritual Direction) was then offered within the newly-formed Institute for Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Formation (ICSPF), a partnership between Campion and the WellSpring Centre of Spirituality. Alan noted the long-term commitment and initiative of Joan Wright Howie and Marcel Koper in leading the core units in the program and their impact on the many students who currently offer supervision.

Developed from a single award, the Graduate Certificate in Supervision grew in 2015 to have Spiritual Direction, Pastoral Ministry and Healthcare streams. The Graduate Diploma was developed to allow graduates to further develop their skills. The Jesuit College of Spirituality also continued to teach the awards and provide trained supervisors for ministry settings.

Associate Professor Fiona Gardner of La Trobe University’s School of Social Work, a regular teacher in the program, expressed her gratitude at being able to contribute to the reflective practice dimensions of the course and noted the supportive, collegial atmosphere. “I hope this spirit can continue in the new way that the course will be offered”, she said. Her two textbooks were noted as having ongoing impact for graduates of the program.

Joan Wright Howie added that she has been “constantly astonished by how prayerful listening can draw out the wisdom that is within people”, and thanked Stirling for “opening up a welcoming space for the course” to widen the scope of supervision to pastoral ministry and healthcare chaplaincy.

Graduates spoke of the life-changing and vocation-extending impact of the program, especially the opportunity for ecumenical and inter-disciplinary experiences within their cohorts, and also interfaith sharing as Jewish and Hindu Chaplains studied at Stirling to become trained supervisors.

Allison Whitby, Stirling’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Liaison Officer, was thanked for her contribution to the transition of the program as a member of the University’s Supervision Taskforce during 2020.

The picture shows some of those staff and graduates of the program who gathered to mark the passing of the Supervision program to the University, as it offers a Graduate Certificate in Professional Supervision and a Graduate Diploma in Professional Supervision from 2021 onwards.

The gathering expressed their prayerful best wishes to Dr Cath McKinney as she takes up the role of Professional Supervision Program Coordinator.

The Chair of the Academic Board publicly thanked all the Stirling Supervision team in the recent Vox article where you can read about the new programs.

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