08 December 2016
Clergy under stress
I read Megan Cornwell’s article “Burdens of office” (3 December) with interest, having recently become a Roman Catholic, from being a retired Anglican priest, and trained social worker.
I have often observed “burn-out” in Anglican clergy, and see all the same symptoms in some of the (mainly elderly) Catholic priests I have met. How we cope with a changing world and a changing Church, with increased responsibilities and different roles from those we were trained for, while the expectations of parishioners and from colleagues are greater than ever, remains a puzzle to me.
But in that puzzle lie some beacons of hope. They include the Sheldon Community (the Society of Mary and Martha), the support offered by some monastic houses, and the sensitive pastoral support from diocesan officials and deanery teams. The ability to work collaboratively with laity in the parish, specific training in handling stress (for example by training in mindfulness) and good spiritual direction may also help.
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