The 'Art of Accompaniment'

Posted : Oct-30-2023

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November is the month of All Souls, an opportunity to remember and pray for our loved ones who have died. It is also an opportunity to reach out and accompany the bereaved families of our parish communities. Saulina (Sally) Amaral, Diocesan Coordinator, Ministries of Care and Ministry with Maturing Adults of the Office of Formation for Discipleship at the Archdiocese of Toronto, shares her thoughts on the ‘Art of Accompaniment.’

1. What is the ‘Art of Accompaniment’?
Pope Francis in the document, Evangelii Gaudium, writes that “the Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).” (Joy of the Gospel, 169).

Pope Francis is inviting us to be “a church capable of walking at people’s side, which accompanies them on their journey.”

According to Directory for Catechesis, accompaniment is “the art of journeying in faith with another in order to make present the Person of Jesus Christ and the saving Paschal Mystery of his life, death, and resurrection as the answer to his or her yearning, questions, and concrete lived experience in the search for God.”

2. What are some of the ways Ministers of Care accompany the sick, dying, and bereaved?
Ministers of Care accompany those who are sick, dying and bereaved through prayer, compassionate presence and the sacraments. They bring the love, prayers, and concern of our Christian community to those in need.

Through our presence, that is the ‘being there’ with a person in need, they experience God’s love and compassion. Also by listening and honoring the sacredness of those stories we bring God’s presence to those in need. Pope Francis said that “The most important task in pastoral activity is the ‘apostolate of the ear’ – to listen before speaking.”

Ministers of Care accompany those in need by sharing scripture with them, bringing the sacrament of Holy Communion to them and encourage them to receive the sacraments of Confession and Anointing of the Sick.

The Church calls each member to pray for the sick, and “to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn.” (OCF #8)

3. How does someone prepare to accompany the sick, dying, and bereaved?

Through our baptism God is calling us to accompany and share the good news of God’s love with those in need. To help Ministers of Care accompany others it is important for them to spend time in prayer and deepen their relationship with Jesus. Prayer is essential to help us accompany those in need.

The training programs, Lay Pastoral Visitors Training and Bereavement Ministry Training, offered by the Office of Formation for Discipleship helps parishioner prepare for this journey of accompaniment.

4. What resources are available to help parishes and parishioners accompany the sick, dying and bereaved?
An excellent resource on accompanying the sick and the dying is Horizons of Hope: A Toolkit for Catholic Parishes on Palliative Care - Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops ( in particular CCCB Palliative Parish Toolkit — Module 3

For further information, please visit:

Archdiocese of Toronto - Ministry to the Sick and Homebound (
Archdiocese of Toronto - Bereavement Ministry (