I'm currently writing a manual on pastoral care in a Church community.

In our cultural context, we use the term "pastor" not only for the traditional role of a community leader but also for anyone providing pastoral care - this works well and is an established part of our vocabulary.

Where I'm struggling is in finding a good word to describe the person receiving the care. Simply using "person" is a little unclear in many contexts (as you may imagine, many point of the manual will involve the person receiving pastoral care and a number of others). Being overly etymological and going back to the root meanings, I'd be left with terms involving sheep and flocks, all of which sound impersonal and condescending when applied to an individual. I'd like to avoid adjectival phrases like "person receiving care" or similar.

We've used the term "pastee" in jest for a number of years (for trans-Atlantic readers, this is funny because a "pasty" is also a delicious foodstuff) but if I have to resort to using it in the manual then it will need a little explanation!

Can anyone offer any suggestions?


Can you suggest a noun meaning "person receiving pastoral care" that isn't: 1. Clumsy 2. Condescending

  • 2
    Be a little retro, and call the person a soul.
    – TimR
    May 4, 2016 at 15:46
  • 2
    I'd say "recipient" thefreedictionary.com/recipient
    – Elian
    May 4, 2016 at 15:53
  • What type of care are they receiving? (For example, some pastors provide counseling; some deacons meet financial needs or serve as a handyman; some laypersons will prepare food).
    – rajah9
    May 4, 2016 at 16:30
  • Towards another of your points: I do not consider "sheep" to be condescending; it was fitting for King David in Ps. 23 or Ps. 100.
    – rajah9
    May 4, 2016 at 16:30
  • Good question: not sure the answer is going to help. We're talking in terms of general pastoral care, covering everything from being a mentor, to praying for someone who's sick, to offering counselling and advice.
    – almcnicoll
    May 4, 2016 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


In the classic psychoanalyst model, such a person was called the analysand (as opposed to a patient). However, I can't think of any way to make this relevant to your question.

Nonprofessional therapists (those without doctorates) often refer to those seeking their services as clients. But that doesn't seem to fit either.

The term accepted by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is consumer of services, but that seems too broad.

Someone I know received pastoral care on a couple of occasions and was simply referred to as parishioner X.


Consider, recipient

A person or thing that receives or is awarded something.

Oxford Dictionaries

Coordinate Pastoral Care ministries; ensure effective processes designed to build strong communication and emotional support for pastoral care recipients, caregivers and volunteers.

St. John's Cathedral

  • Not sure why this got downvoted as that seems a little harsh. For my money, though, it is pretty impersonal and very passive (the latter consideration wasn't part of my spec of course).
    – almcnicoll
    May 4, 2016 at 16:28
  • I've up-voted it: I thought of exactly the same word. You say that it's "impersonal and very passive", but I don't agree that it is. You asked for a term suitable for use in your manual. You yourself referred to "the person receiving pastoral care" - that is a recipient! You could introduce the term early in the manual as the "recipient of pastoral care"; "care recipient" or something similar, and then contract it subsequently to "recipient".
    – TrevorD
    May 4, 2016 at 23:49

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