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Emmaus Programme

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 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 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 giving 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.





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?