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Emmaus - A training programme in the spiritual accompaniment of Catholic head teachers


The Emmaus Programme

The Emmaus Programme is a new venture to train and provide spiritual guides for Catholic head teachers who would appreciate such support.


This project has arisen out of the national head teachers' retreat which has received considerable interest. After experiencing the retreat, many heads have asked for spiritual direction or accompaniment but there have not been enough spiritual directors or guides adequately to respond to these requests.


The Emmaus Programme is a pilot project, to be run in London and the North West, for two groups of around 12 people, training them to be spiritual guides suitable for supporting Catholic head teachers.


The programme is a collaboration between the Catholic Independent Schools Conference (CISC), EducareM and the Jesuit Institute


The training programme will consist of half-day sessions once a month over nine months. It also includes a residential individually guided retreat and a residential weekend of training. The monthly sessions take place in the two locations (Manchester/Salford and Ealing in London); the retreat and residential will bring the two groups together.


The training programme will consist of sessions on spiritual accompaniment, led by Ruth Holgate (Director of Loyola Hall Spirituality Centre) and sessions on basic psychological skills, led by Roger Dawson SJ (Director of St Beuno's Spirituality Centre). The programme is devised and co-ordinated by the Jesuit Institute.


Who are we looking for?

It is difficult to say exactly who might make a good spiritual guide for a serving Catholic head teacher but it would most likely be someone who:

  • is a practising Catholic, with a prayer life, and some understanding of spirituality
  • prays each day and will be willing to do some guided spiritual reading regularly
  • is willing to undertake spiritual guidance/accompaniment themselves
  • is a good listener, and can help another person reflect, discern and pray, rather than seeking to solve their problems or propose the answers
  • will understand, and maybe have experienced, the pressures of being a head teacher, and the context of a school, but understands that this role is not about gving educational advice
  • has the time to give to the training course (the monthly sessions are on weekdays)
  • will, once training is completed, be able to give at least one hour each month or half-term to a serving head teacher
  • will continue to attend occasional training sessions for continuing formation of their own skills

We hope this does not put you off! If even some of these charactaristics fit and you are keen to do this, please do apply. 



We welcome applications to join the Emmaus Programme. In the first instance please send a letter or email of application setting out your relevent experience and explaining why you wish to be part of the project.


Please send your application (letter or email) to Fr Adrian Porter SJ at the Jesuit Institute

Further information to follow in 2015.




Further information to follow in 2015.



The Course

Session 1 - Introduction

Leadership in Catholic Education - Why spiritual accompaniment?

The context and varieties of spiritual accompaniment.

An Ignatian model of accompaniment and spiritual conversation.


Session 2 - Listening

Skills of active listening.

Core conditions of the helping relationship.


Session 3 - Discernment of spirits

For what are we listening? The focus of spiritual accompaniment.

The Ignatian approach to noticing the work of God in the world.

Guidelines for discernment of spirits.


Session 4 - Images of God

The various ways in which people perceive God.

How our image of God affects our faith and our prayer.

The relationship of God image and self-image.


Session 5 - Decision-making

Making faith focused decisions.

Accompanying someone making a decision.

Practical tools for decision making in a faith context.


Session 6 - Mad and Sad

Psychology and spiritual accompaniment.

Recognising when the situation lies outside your competence.

Ways of referring people.


Session 7 - Ethics and boundaries

Elements of good practice in accompaniment - 'dos and don'ts'.

Virtue Ethics - the person who accompanies.

Case Studies


Session 8 - Residential Conference

Practical issues of accompaniment.

Finding supper when accompanying others.

What next?




Venues and Dates


Holy Family Catholic Primary School

Vale Lane
West Acton 
 W3 0DY


Tue 27th May 2014

Session 1

Tue 17th June

Session 2

July 2014

Retreat (dates tba)

Tue 23 Sep

Session 3

Tue 21 Oct

Session 4

Tue 25 Nov

Session 5

Tue 20 Jan 2015

Session 6

Tue 10 Feb

Session 7

March 2015

Residential (dates tba)




Manchester University Catholic Chaplaincy
Avila House
335-337 Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PG



Thr 29th May 2014

Session 1

Thr 19 June

Session 2

July 2014

Retreat (dates tba)

Thr 25 Sep

Session 3

Thr 23 Oct

Session 4

Thr 27 Nov

Session 5

Thr 22 Jan 2015

Session 6

Thr 12 Feb

Session 7

March 2015

Residential (dates tba)


Sessions will begin at 12.30 (sandwich lunch will be available) and finish at 4.00pm


Retreat and Residential

There will also be a two-night residential individually guided retreat. And a one-night residential towards the end of the course. Dates to be announced shortly.


Spiritual Accompaniment of Head Teachers in Practice

Once the programme is completed, it is hoped that each spiritual guide will provide accompaniment to one, or possibly two, serving head teachers. They will meet once a month, or once each half-term, for between 60 and 90 minutes. Included in the training will be how to structure these meetings.


Those trained in the Emmaus Programme will be available to begin the ministry of spiritual accompaniment of head teachers in April 2015.


The spiritual accompaniment is voluntary and so unpaid. It is envisaged that you would accompany a Catholic head teacher in your local area (wherever you did the training programme). 



If you have further questions please contact Fr Adrian Porter SJ at the Jesuit Institute.