Nearly 670 priests and religious receive help from your association each year. So they also need to be coached?
The wording of “coach” is recent, but humans have always used someone to help them: a wise man, a mentor, an advisor or even a priest! To develop, we all need spaces to reread and analyze our lives. In 2006, during a Notre-Dame Team outing, a young priest confided to us how complicated his relationships were with the laity and the priest of his parish. I was doing consulting work at the time and thought maybe we could help him. Today, 80 volunteer coaches give their time for group training or individual support.
Do you also accompany vicars general and bishops?
Yes, but some are still very reluctant! The more responsibilities humans have, the more they are confronted with their limits and the more important it is that they find confidential and caring spaces to analyze them. This is all the more essential for single people who have no one to confide in in the evening or with whom to talk on equal terms! However, using a coach requires a lot of humility. It is agreeing to open up and share the part of fragility that exists in each of us.
But priests all benefit from spiritual support, right?
Spiritual accompaniment is absolutely necessary. However, it aims first at…spiritual growth. However, to exercise a ministry, it is fundamental to take into account the psychological and relational dimension of the person. Our humanity is never free from the wounds that pollute relationships and we all need to work on ourselves. A temptation would be to consider that grace provides for everything; it would be enough to pray and be well formed theologically and spiritually.
This would be to ignore the role of nature and the body, which must also be developed. As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “grace does not replace nature, it perfects it.” Coaching allows this work on our humanity to let grace deify it. It is not a miracle recipe but a useful tool that it would be a shame to neglect.