Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

The approximate total amount of time you will spend on this unit is 300 hours. This total includes intensive, retreat-like experiences in which you are invited to examine and re-examine your relevant professional and personal experience in the context of unit content as presented in lectures, group conversations, workshop activities, guest presentations, and videos. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.


Unit rationale, description and aim

Ministry is fundamental to the identity, nature and purpose of the Christian churches, and manifests itself in a variety of personal and institutional charisms for the good of the church and the flourishing of the cultures within which it works.

This unit explores the ecclesiological foundations of the Second Vatican Council and its reception in relation to your concrete vocation and ministries. With a focus on the theological formation of candidates for leadership roles within a variety of ecclesial ministries, it offers you the opportunity to integrate theoretical knowledge of ministry with the praxis and reflection on the charisms and systems through which it finds expression.

The unit enables you to develop a critical understanding and strategic overview of Catholic organizational culture as it manifests itself in any given context. It equips you with the necessary tools to develop, implement and evaluate multidimensional formative frameworks for personal and organizational growth in effective pastoral ministry. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Articulate the ecclesiological foundations and organizational structure of a specific ministerial context, taking into account the variety of charisms and vocations and the identified mission of the organization and surrounding context; (GA2, GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Critically analyse the various contextual dimensions of those ministries (opportunities and challenges) in relation to an informed understanding of the theologies of the Church, baptism and priesthood, demonstrating an integration of theory and reflective practice; (GA3, GA4)

LO3 - Design a formative framework and pastoral plan for the identified context based on demographic analysis of charisms, and with appropriately articulated goals, strategies and plans for ongoing evaluation and accountability; (GA5, GA7, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

  • Critical reflection on Vatican II ecclesiology
  • Theology of vocation
  • Theologies of mission and ministry (including lay ecclesial ministries)
  • Reception and development of charisms;
  • Collaborative ministry
  • Theories of culture and contextuality
  • Theology of priesthood
  • New ecclesial movements
  • Scandal and abuse, Institutional changes and protocols, and safeguarding children
  • Theological skills for reflection on ministerial practice

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy utilized in this unit draws extensively upon nearly 500 years of Jesuit educational philosophy and practice found in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP). The IPP understands learning and teaching as sequenced in exploration of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. This process enables your readiness, as a student, to engage in a learning process that is transformative of the whole person, mind and heart. The learning process that it facilitates draws on the Christian view of the human person in its structure and content, for example, by emphasising the your dignity and creative contribution to the experience of learning. The vision of the IPP presupposes that learner and teacher enter into a mutual and reciprocal relationship whereby each searches for the insight of the other and in the service of shared learning.

 The unit utilizes this strategy because it specifically offers a model of adult-learning that recognizes, supports, respects, and develops the wealth of experience and knowledge that you, as a participant, bring to this unit. This strategy aims at facilitating your appropriation of unit content in relation to your own learning needs and personal growth. As a result, this strategy generates readiness for personal transformation and meaningful professional impact.

 The approximate total amount of time you will spend on this unit is 300 hours. This total includes intensive, retreat-like experiences in which you are invited to examine and re-examine your relevant professional and personal experience in the context of unit content as presented in lectures, group conversations, workshop activities, guest presentations, and videos. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy of this unit builds on the first unit in the Dmin program to further scaffold the appropriation of unit content in relation to your personal and professional commitments to pastoral ministry. The assessment tasks enable you to synthesize and deepen your learning in view of the unit’s transformative educational philosophy in the Ignatian tradition. The unit utilizes three assessments, each of which scaffolds unit content with respect to your learning needs and intended outcomes.

The first assessment asks you to revisit the theological foundations of your work as identified and articulated in the specific ministerial context in which you are called to work. It asks you to articulate the particular theological focus and charism of your organisation in relation to the broader ecclesial picture (LO1).

The second assessment task builds on your appropriation of learning in the first by asking you to critically reflect upon and analyse the contextual challenges and opportunities latent in your ministry setting (LO2).

The third assessment brings the learning process forward by gathering descriptive and critically reflective insights towards the creation of formative framework for ongoing pastoral work. All assessments provide a strong, practical connection between unit learning outcomes and participants’ personal and professional commitments to pastoral ministry.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes


For example: Students will prepare a presentation of the mission and ethos of a Catholic organisation. The presentation will include the articulated origin, aims, roles, contemporary context, opportunities and challenges facing the organisation. 



GA2, GA4, GA5

Critical Analysis

For example: Two journal entries in which students critically reflect upon the opportunities and challenges of ministry in their organisation. The entries will demonstrate how the student integrates the theoretical foundations and practical dimensions of their work, as well as proposed pathways forward in face of both opportunities or challenges.  


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5

Written Project

For example: Theological Position Paper for the organisation’s executive leadership group. The paper will articulate the ecclesiological foundations of the organisation’s mission, an analysis of its current cultural identity and the areas and streams in need of formation, as well as proposed themes and/or providers. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger P. Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004.

Cahalan, Kathleen. Introducing the Practice of Ministry (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010)

Conway, Eamonn. Priesthood Today: Ministry in a Changing Church, ed. (Dublin: Veritas, 2013)

Fox, Zeni, ed. Lay Ecclesial Ministry: Pathways toward the Future. Lanham Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Hahnenberg, Edward. Theology of Ministry: An Introduction for Lay Ministers (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2014).

Kroth M., Cranton P. Stories of Transformative Learning. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 2014.

Lowney, Chris. Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads. Lessons from the First Jesuit Pope. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2013.

O’Meara, Thomas. Theology of Ministry (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1999), [rev. ed.]

Rush, Ormond. The Vision of Vatican II: Its Fundamental Principles. Vision of Vatican 2. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press Academic, 2019.

Wood, Susan K. et al. eds. Ordering the Baptismal Priesthood: Theologies of Lay and Ordained Ministry. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2003.

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