The Catholic Church expects deacons to empathize with the people to whom they are called to minister. The purpose of this study is to explore how deacon candidates express empathy toward the persons to whom they minister in charitable situations. The theoretical framework for this study was Stein’s theory of sensual and emotional empathy. Empathy, an essential element of effective helping relationships, has not been examined in the context of diaconal ministry in the Catholic setting. A qualitative descriptive methodology used archival data to explore how candidates in formation for diaconal leadership describe empathy. Pastoral reflection assignment essays were analyzed for emotional and somatic responses consistent with Stein's model of empathy, using Corpus Linguistic Analyses. Six major themes emerged from this analysis: Elimination of Assumptions and Prejudice, Identification with the Needy, Personal Transformation, Sense of Divine Presence, Moral Development, and Empathic Feelings toward Persons to Whom They Ministered. These themes reflected and affirmed Stein’s conception of empathy and how it operates in personal encounters. The study found that diaconal candidates’ experiences and expressions in written essays reflected some stages of sensual and emotional empathy as proposed by Stein, but not all stages in every case. This is of particular significance to curricular design for diaconal formation to help candidates understand empathy and their empathic feelings toward others, and to engender and develop empathy toward persons to whom they will minister in future circumstances. More studies of diaconal candidates’ experience with empathy are recommended to further the development of empathic feelings during formation.
|Advisor:||Maranga, Kennedy M.|
|Commitee:||Bonds, Jill, Czelusniak, Vernon L.|
|School:||St. Thomas University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational psychology, Religious education, Education philosophy|
|Keywords:||Diaconate, Empathy, Formation, Ministry, Schenck, Stein|
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