Support is a gift that one both offers to others and receives from others. In a healthy life it is normative in the style of relating and working. The truth is that it is not always enough and so it also needs to be intentionally planned and designed.
To begin is it important to reflect on your life and articulate where and from whom do you feel support?
Friends both female and male?
Colleagues who are clergy?
Colleagues who are not clergy?
My parish priest, my bishop?
My religious order?
Present day parishioners?
Former parishioners from past appointments?
Medial professionals such as a doctor, a pyschologist etc?
Clubs such as rotary, a walking group, a book club?
What support do i give these people?
Do they feel supported by me?
If so, in what ways?
A discernment then can be made by asking the question;
Are there different levels of suppport from various areas of my life that i receive and give?
How would i describe the difference?
- Is it coaching i am seeking?
- Is it spiritual direction?
- Is it supervision?
- Is it professional support from a health professional that i am seeking?
- Is it friendship and a comanionship with consistency?
Once such a discernment is made it will become clearer what it is that you are seeking.
If it is a support group that provides peer companionship that invites reflection on one another’s life then a straucture such as:
Monthly gathering with a night overstay (Sunday night often works). A meal shared in a social manner.
A Eucharist/ prayer time
A sharing of what is happening in one another’s life. This can be done in turn with the expectation of a written verbatim incorporating a theological reflection.
The day could conclude with a movie, a walk or in some such manner.
The structure is something you can construct once you have invited others to begin a support group together.
In your diocese other clergy members do or have belonged to a support group and it would be beneficial to ask for their experience and reflections.