Spiritual Leaders focuses on personal integration of the theory and practice of a discerning approach to pastoral ministry. It is a year-long, integrated unit for those involved in leadership roles in pastoral ministry: parish priests/ministers, lay ecclesial ministers, chaplains involved in a variety of ministries, educators and community leaders. Utilising a contemplative, experiential approach to learning, the course incorporates individual (monthly) and peer group (weekly) supervision, written and oral verbatims, and seminar work. Spiritual leaders focuses on growth in self-awareness and sensitivity to the movement of God’s Spirit in oneself, as well as in the person(s) to whom one is ministering. Content areas include the leadership exercised by Jesus, Christian prayer and mysticism, spiritual practices in world religions, the nature and source of interior movements, discernment of spirits and contemplative decision-making.

Unit code: DS2101Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 36.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Identify and articulate interior movements and dynamics within the human person


Engage in a contemplative approach to pastoral ministry and life experience


Recognise, articulate and demonstrate awareness of the signs of God’s Spirit (and spirits not of God) present in themselves and others


Apply the principles of spiritual discernment in pastoral leadership


Reflect critically on and articulate, their experience of contemplative listening in spiritual and pastoral leadership and ministry

Unit sequence

Undergraduate Level 2 This undergraduate unit is intended to be used flexibly in a course of study, especially focusing on those involved in an approved pastoral ministry placement — priests/ministers, lay ecclesial ministers, chaplains, educators, community leaders etc., whether as a starting point or later in the program of study. Candidates are interviewed before being accepted into the program.


The pedagogical framework of the units is interactive and incorporates a blend of individual (monthly) and peer group (weekly) supervision of ministry, verbatims, role plays and supervised 1:1 ministry in small groups. This interactivity is combined with, and complemented by, seminar-style learning and private study. In addition to Assessment requirements, participants are required to keep a ministry log for both individual and peer group supervisions. The unit includes two residential weekends during which participants, alone and in groups, reflect critically and contemplatively on the call to spiritual leadership in pastoral ministry, and on the challenges and opportunities that this call presents through prayer experiences led by the supervisor.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Armstrong, Karen. The Great Transformation. New York: Anchor Books, 2006.
  • Attar, Farid ud-Din. The Conference of the Birds. New York: Interlink Publishing Group, 2003.
  • Gallagher, Brian. Taking God to Heart. Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls Publications, 2008.
  • Nouwen, Henri with Michael J. Christensen & Rebecca J. Laird. Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.
  • Pagola, Jose Antonio. Jesus: An Historical Approximation. Miami, Fl: Convivium Press, 2013.
  • Sharmer, C. Otto. Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges, Second Edition, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, September 2016.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Eight written verbatim reports equivalent to 500 words each Assessed pass/fail #

  • #: all tasks must be completed satisfactorily to pass the unit
4000 0.0
Personal & Professional Evaluation

Mid-year personal and professional evaluation equivalent to 1000 words and Final personal and professional evaluation equivalent to 1000 words on spiritual leadership as experienced and critically reflected upon Assessed pass/fail#

2000 0.0

Essay of 1000 words focusing on the theory and practice of discernment in spiritual leadership Assessed pass/fail#

1000 0.0

Essay of 1000 words focusing on the theory and practice of discernment in spiritual leadership Assessed pass/fail#

1000 0.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000