Shekinah Diploma

Course Overview

Programme Title/Award: 
Diploma in Spirituality – Applied Youth Ministry
NFQ Level: 
Level 7
Credits (ECTS): 
Certificate year 20 credits / Diploma year 20 credits = Total 40 credits

Diploma Programme

A diploma course is offered tho those who have successfully completed the certificate course.  This deepens and expands the knowledge and experience gained.

The self-sourced placement may consist of school retreats, parish programmes or other youth ministry outreaches with and evangelical component

Aims and Objectives

To provide the participants with a foundational, authentic, theological, scriptural, spiritual and psychological basis from which to design and deliver youth retreat and other youth ministry experiences.

This course in applied youth ministry explores the development of a comprehensive methodology for retreat facilitators and other youth workers in our contemporary youth culture. Its values are rooted in a theological and pastoral vision of Christian Spirituality. Apart from helping participants develop foundational understandings for youth ministry, the skills of the course are transferable to varied pastoral work with youth. Reflective practice and theological reflection will be integral to the programme.

Course Topics

  1. Adolescent psychology with focus on identity, gender, sexuality, and boundaries. Influence of culture and postmodern world on the spirituality and practice of young people today
  2. Reflective practice and theological reflection
  3. Foundation skills and methodologies in facilitating youth retreat experiences
  4. Practical approaches to youth pastoral and retreats. Use of music and drama
  5. Classroom dynamics
  6. Techniques, Skills and Background involved in practice of Christian Meditation & Mindfulness
  7. How an understanding of a rapidly changing culture informs skills-set of a youth retreat facilitator
  8. The central role of Jesus
  9. Images of God in the old and New Testament
  10. The Universe Story and Ecological awareness

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, participants should be able to

  • Design and conduct faith-based retreat programmes for adolescents.
  • Identify the relevant characteristics, skills and practices applicable in youth retreat and other youth ministry experiences today.
  • Identify a variety of ways to nurture a living relationship with the triune God in the lives of adolescents.
  • Integrate and transfer theological reflection into their work as reflective practioners
  • Analyse and critique “post-modern” culture and develop some strategies for faith formation with adolescents in a post-modern world.

Learning Progression

MA in Applied Spirituality (www.spiritualityinstitute.ie)

Entry Details: Applicants for the MA in Applied Spirituality should normally hold an NFQ Level 8 Honours degree in a field of study related to the programme such as, philosophy, humanities, human sciences, religious studies, or a similar discipline.  They will usually have familiarity with the language of spirituality and will have experience in the field through, for instance, attendance at retreats, prayer practice, meditation, pilgrimage, social justice engagement, planetary well-being advocacy, or other such activities. 

Applicants who do not hold the NFQ Level 8 qualification, but have sufficient relevant learning gained through the workplace, voluntary service, life experiences, and study will be considered for admission to the programme.

Every applicant is invited for an admissions conversation.

For further information, please contact Michael at spiremos@gmail.com

Dates 2018: September 22, September 29, October 6, October 20, November 17, November 24, December 8 Dates 2019: February 2, February 19, April 6 Location: Margaret Aylward Centre for Faith & Dialogue, Glasnevin, Dublin 11. Note: The venue for the certificate and diploma course is the same. However the diploma will take place in the upstairs prayer room of the centre.

Admission Criteria

Each applicant must have completed the certificate course and the required diploma application form and will be interviewed before the beginning of the course.

Course Pre-Requisites:

  • Ongoing commitment to their Christian Faith
  • Some theological foundation (either academic or adult level of faith development)
  • A good general knowledge of adolescent development stages and an ability to apply this knowledge in facilitating retreats
  • An aptitude and openness in working with young people
  • An openness to ongoing personal faith development and reflective practice
  • To have successfully completed the certificate course

Students who received a certificate under the All Hallows administration can be admitted to the diploma course pending a written assignment.  

Cost of Diploma Year

€1,350 or €1,250 if the course is taken directly following the certificate year.  This includes registration and administration fees, hire of facility  insurance, student card, NUIM  library access and specialist lecture resources.  

A refund of €100 will be returned to each participant to cover the cost of their practical placement. (Therefore total cost is €1,250 or €1,150)  All other financial costs incurred e.g. transport, hall hire for placement etc.) will be covered by the participant.

There is a refund scheme available specifically for teachers to recoup costs of additional study, more information here..

€100 will be given back to each student to cover the cost of their practical placement. All other financial costs incurred e.g. transport, hall hire, etc will be covered by the student.

Module 1: How adolescent developmental theory can inform our understanding of adolescents and how best to support them

Sessions 1& 3

Learning outcomes

Students will

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complex period that is adolescence and the relevant learning theorists
  • Describe how youth ministers can help adolescents cope with the challenges they may face, such as anxiety, depression, bullying and alcohol or substance abuse
  • Appraise and critique the implications of contemporary culture in dealing with young people in retreat and pastoral situations
  • Identify the main characteristics of today’s understanding of the spiritual, psychological and social development of adolescents
  • Identify ways of engaging with young people who are disenchanted with the institutional Church and who no longer practice their faith
Module 2: Becoming a reflective practioner and learning to do theological reflection

Sessions 2 & 4

Learning outcomes

Students will

  • Identify different levels of reflection with regard to their own work and that of others
  • Identify the process of ‘theological reflection’ as the common methodology of theological thinking
  • Assemble and apply a method of theological reflection understanding its strengths and weaknesses
  • Compare and contrast the difference between descriptive and reflective writing
  • Integrate theological reflection into their work as reflective practitioners
Module 3: Enhancing skills and practice in facilitating youth retreats or comparable faith development activities compatible with the aims of the course.

Sessions 5, 6 & 7

Learning outcomes

Students will

  • Identify the skills and practice to engage in a multi-disciplinary approach to youth ministry.
  • Illustrate the value of facilitation skills over a teaching or preaching method
  • Identify the skills needed to develop an understanding of group management and boundaries
  • Evaluate the key areas needed to enhance skills and practice in youth ministry
  • Examine ways of finding language and symbols to engage young people with gospel and faith values
  • Identify the relevant professional protocols when dealing with schools or parishes
  • Significantly enhance their effectiveness in ministering to adolescents through a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in a rapidly changing culture
Module 4: Approaches to theology, scripture and spirituality

Sessions 8, 9 & 10

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to

  • Examine and describe the person of Jesus of Nazareth and be able to help young people develop a relationship with the living Christ
  • Examine ways of finding language and symbols to engage young people with gospel and faith values
  • Relate the practice of meditation to an understanding of the Christian mystical tradition
  • Examine how the image of God developed in the Old Testament and how it achieved its fullest expression in the person of Jesus
  • Discover the connection between the practice of our faith and the universe in the light of  Laudato Si'
Module 5: Practical Placement:

Students will organise, prepare, facilitate and evaluate at least 4 youth retreats in a school or parish setting.  This can be achieved on an individual basis or as part of a team of 2 and will be supervised by the course facilitators. All aspects of the practical placement will be presented in a portfolio.

Learning outcomes

Students will

  • Show knowledge, ability and comprehension of the characteristics involved in preparing a youth retreat programme
  • Demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge and comprehension of the necessary elements in a retreat programme to address the complexities of the current cultural situation for today’s youth
  • Demonstrate their ability to design and implement an effective evaluation methodology for their work
  • Demonstrate their ability to design and implement a personal theological reflective practice for their work   

Student workload and criteria for assessment

Students are strongly recommended to make use of the library, lecture notes and resources offered.

  • Participation

It is important that students attend all 10 workshop sessions.  If someone is absent due to illness or other extenuating circumstances they will have to do an assignment pertaining to the particular section that they missed.  They will also have to take responsibility for acquiring any relevant material pertaining to that session.  Students who miss 1 or more sessions will not qualify for the diploma in that particular academic year. They may however repeat the missed courses in the following year the diploma is being held and thereby qualify for certification

  • Continual Assessment

Students will demonstrate their skills in leading meditation and prayer experiences, ice- breakers and involvements exercises.   The will be encouraged to create audio visual presentations and demonstrate their ability to select appropriate media resources for appropriate age groups.  They will be visited by a supervisor during their practical placement.


Completion of required written work

      Students are required to submit four 2,000 word papers under the following headings

  1. Adolescent psychology: Dr. Claire Hayes

“Adolescence is a wonderful period of life”

Do you agree?

How would you in your role as a youth minister help an adolescent cope well with the challenges of adolescence

Note: Students will be expected to answer this question drawing on their personal views and informed by reviewing the relevant literature in this area and referring to the contribution of developmental theorists such as Erick Erickson, Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg


  1. Pastoral reflection and supervision: Dr. Kevin Egan 

Reflecting on Significant Learning Experiences (2000 words).

The instructions are:

i. Choose a significant personal event in your life and write a reflection on the experience describing what happened, your understanding of the event and what you have learned from it. Write a theological reflection where you interpret the event in the light of your faith and cultural tradition.

ii. Choose a pastoral experience which had significant learning for you (the more recent the better). Describe the experience and reflect on what was happening for you and others. Write a theological reflection ion on the event describing how it contributed to your understanding of ministry and your sense of call.

iii. Write a short conclusion describing your experience of writing this assignment and the learning that emerged for you.


  1. Youth culture – enhancing skills and practice: Dr. Oliver Brennan

Discuss the challenges and opportunities for religious faith among the rising generations in contemporary culture.


  1. Images of God in Old and New Testament (Personal Encounter): Ms Julieann Moran

Reflecting on Significant Learning Experiences (2000 words). 

  1. What have I come to know of God for myself – that is by conviction, in an experiential way and how does this experience shape my approach to life and the lives of others?
  2. Where or how am I energised/inspired/hope-filled in my efforts to respond to God’s call as a disciple of Christ?
  3. Where or how am I challenged in my efforts to respond to God’s call as a disciple of Christ?