Our Core Program, Companioning the Dying: Opening Fully to Living, was created to empower and support persons who feel called to companion the dying and desire to live fuller, more courageous lives.

This ten-month long program offers both formation and ongoing support and has a special concern to support companions for those persons who would otherwise have no one to accompany them in their final journeys. Through formal presentations and experiential learning, the program offers basic skills and contemplative practices that will assist participants in confident and compassionate companioning of the dying along with the integration of this experience into their own spirituality. The program, which is offered in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area and on-line using Zoom and Google Classrooms, begins in September and ends the following June.


Our Core Program is designed for those who:

  • have the capacity to be with themselves and others in suffering and loss;
  • have the time, energy and will to pursue a new ministry or enrich their current ministry;
  • have sufficiently dealt with loss and other life issues so as to resist imposing their experience on others;
  • are open to learning new skills, attitudes, and ways of being from and with others within a diverse learning community of individuals from a variety of faith traditions and experiences;
  • are willing to be mentored in the  process of developing those skills, attitudes, and ways of being;
  • are willing to engage with the new and deepening dimensions of Mystery that pervades all of life.


Participants in our Core Program typically represent a broad range of experience in companioning the dying. Some are nurses, social workers, chaplains, death doulas, seasoned hospice volunteers, care-givers for family members, while others are just beginning to sense the rightness of moving in this direction. They also represent a rich variety of faith traditions. The thread that unites them is a common desire to form community with others who share their intent to deepen their own spirituality as they engage in this ministry of companioning.


  • Weekly Companioning of a Dying Person within a hospital, hospice, long-term care facility or other home setting, reflecting on the experience through journaling. Participants who do not already have a place for companioning are assisted in choosing a place to perform their companioning. See further information about placement and time requirements for companioning. (In cases where companioning another is not practical or possible, this component may sometimes take the form of prayerful attention to one’s own mortality.)
  • Monthly Meetings — The entire class meets for six hours once each month, and the February three-day residential retreat described below. The first and last sessions are in-person and the remaining 6 sessions are on-line via Zoom.
  • View meeting dates.
  • Monthly meetings include:
    • discussions on readings from select Bibliography;
    • seminars on selected topics from core faculty and guest speakers who are experienced in their field and
    • sharing of questions and insights from companioning experiences.
  • Three-Day Residential Retreat — the opportunity to deepen one’s learning and capacity for simple presence through experiential exercises, reflection and sharing in an atmosphere of silence supported by the class community. This option will also be offered as a stand-alone experience if space allows.
  • Monthly Mentoring — a monthly one-hour conversation during which participants explore their questions, insights, learnings and experiences with a seasoned peer companion provided by the program.
  • Ongoing At-Home Work — the integration of course work and companioning through contemplative practice, journaling, guided reading, reflection on life and beliefs within the context of companioning the dying and participating in the program, and a summative integration project of the participant’s own choosing.

Participants can normally expect to dedicate approximately twenty (20) hours a month over a period of ten months towards fulfilling the components of this program.


  • We understand that travel to the Washington DC area may not be possible for all those who are interested in learning with us. Therefore we are pilot testing a content-rich half-day option for those who would like to participate remotely
  • Program will consist of 6 half-day programs on specific topics such as ethics, palliative care, bereavement and more.
  • We envision this to work best for alumni of the program who wish to refresh and reconnect with us or for those who already have experience with companioning. This option will not include the retreat, the integrative project or peer review mentoring.


  • Graduates of our Core Program are provided ongoing support for their ministry of companioning through annual retreats led by Program faculty which include opportunities for reflection, renewal, and exchange of insights and experiences learned from their ministries.
  • Faculty may also be available for ongoing consultation on specific issues.
  • Periodic workshops featuring recognized guest speakers are offered, to which graduates are afforded discounted tuition.


FULL TUITION for the 2024-25 Core Program is  $975, which includes the cost of the retreat. Tuition for the online-only 6-session program is $425. Tuition for either option is due in full by August 1, 2024.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – Thanks to the generosity of our donors, some scholarship aid is available to assist those with financial need. Flexible tuition payment plans may also be available based on need. Requests for scholarship aid or alternate payment plans should be submitted with your application.

Go To Application Instructions


Co-Sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers, Maryland Chapter — 53 Continuing Education Units (Cat. I) available for Social Workers for completion of the Core Program.