Trinity College

The Orthodox Pastoral Role and Formation

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Fall 2019
Next Offered: 
Fall 2022

From the earliest years of Christianity the Church has placed a strong emphasis on the proper leadership. Depending on the era, the local elder/bishop/presbyter has always been seen as not only a teacher but as one who helps lead his local flock towards Christ. Modern Orthodox Christians would call this process “spiritual formation.” While it is Christ Himself who is the head of the Church and its chief celebrant, the specific priesthood of believers (or eldership) is what allows the Grace of God to be accurately and effectively transmitted to His people in every time and place. Orthodox priests are not masters of the sacraments but rather their servants. They do not create grace but rather invoke it. Nevertheless, it is their personal example, behaviour, personality and sanctity that play a key role in the spiritual formation of their flock. This course will endeavour to explore role of the priest in this capacity: the capacity of spiritual formation. How is this achieved, both for the priest and the layperson?

This course will be an introduction to the role and function of the Orthodox priest within the parish setting as well as other pastoral and chaplaincy roles (both clerical and lay). Students will be introduced to selected writings ranging from Scripture to the Fathers to contemporary theologians. We will be covering themes such as vocation, ordination, counseling, confession, and parish and personal life. While this course will briefly explore the biblical and historical origins and development of the priesthood and pastoral roles, its primary focus will be on the contemporary role of the priest or lay pastor in the modern world and parish life.