The priest’s and the consecrated person’s main gift to their people is their availability, presence and the ability to spend time with them. Thus, they will also be involved in people’s lives as they experience challenges and difficulties. This course focuses on the relationship between the priest and laity; how this relationship may be developed in a healthy way and ultimately, how the priest can emotionally support the laity safely. Through self-awareness and self-reflection, the priest becomes more conscious of how he works, which is important for him to provide the best possible service to the community.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the working context with which the relationship between the priest and the people develops.
  • Value the experience of being with other people.
  • Comprehend the ambiguity surrounding priesthood and counselling.
  • Appreciate the challenge of maintaining boundaries.
  • Be aware of ethical issues.
  • Recognise the importance of self-care.

The course is intended for priests who give emotional support in their pastoral ministry. 

Target Audience Age: 18+

The question of who the priest is poses critical concerns when discussing personal and professional identity. We will investigate whether there is a link between the priest’s personal identity and his priestly identity and analyse the role of the priest in modern culture. The priest oversees a vast range of responsibilities, realities, and ministries, and is present with many people from various backgrounds. Being present with the people is an essential part of the priest’s pastoral ministry, and without specific talents, the priest may feel fatigued, unsatisfied, and possibly incapable of meeting people’s needs. We will discuss what perceptions people have of priests and whether such perceptions are consistent with their roles.

Trustworthiness is critical for spiritual leaders and the reputation of a Church. Priests must inspire loyalty and keep their promises, avoid exploiting people’s vulnerabilities, model character, and keep sensitive information private. To maintain trust and trustworthiness, confidentiality is required. Priests should follow a set of guidelines designed to help people improve their decision-making skills and distinguish between right and wrong when the line is blurred. Many priests struggle with their role as a counsellor due to a lack of therapeutic skills and theoretical perspectives. We will gain a better understanding of how Catholic priests deliver such sessions and what they consider beneficial or unsuccessful.

The priest must maintain appropriate boundaries with the laity to protect the relationship. This includes maintaining a psychological distance and being aware of the conventions, regulations, or codes that characterise an individual’s personal space or environment. Healthy boundaries provide individuals with a nurturing and safe physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual environment. During the session, we will discover more about three types of limits: time boundaries, space boundaries, and emotional boundaries. We will be more aware that setting boundaries is critical to self-care. Another aspect of self-care is leisure. It is possible to believe that leisure is an escape from responsibility, but leisure should pervade all aspects of a priest’s life and service.


The course is delivered in 3 sessions (6 contact hours) over 3 weeks. The 2 hour weekly sessions are held on Mondays between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm at Ta’ Mlit Pastoral Centre. Free parking facilities are available.

Monday at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
DateLecture Title
13th NovemberRecognise how the priest’s role in today’s setting fulfils his identity while valuing the experience of being with other people.
20th NovemberRecognise ethical issues while understanding the ambiguity of priesthood and counselling
27th NovemberRecognise the value of self-care as well as the difficulty of maintaining boundaries.

This course has two exit certificate options: 

  1. Certificate of Attendance

To obtain a Certificate of Attendance, students must attend all the course contact hours. 

2. Certificate of Achievement 

To obtain a Certificate of Achievement, students must: 

  • attend all contact hours;  
  • and successfully complete the course`s assessment (case study analysis)

Teaching and Awarding Institution: Pastoral Formation Institute

Qualifications: Every application will be considered on its individual merits. The Pastoral Formation Institute accepts a wide range of qualifications, and we always try to judge applications on the basis of academic potential. We do consider a very wide range of academic, vocational, and professional qualifications, as well as work and other appropriate experiences and skills.

Language: Primary level understanding of Maltese and English.

Digital: Knows how to access the internet and use a word processor.


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