Becoming a Celebrant

Introduction

There is a growing demand for Humanist ceremonies throughout Ireland and consequently a growth in demand for celebrants.

A humanist ceremony is more than just an event without  religion – it is a ceremony that reflects humanist principles  – the value we place on humanity and reason, the value we place on our rights and responsibilities and, in particular, it emphasizes our individuality, our personal story, our personal history and on our connections with others. Humanist ceremonies celebrate the uniqueness of individual human lives.

 

Ceremonies

Requests for humanist weddings, naming ceremonies and funerals are ever rising. Couples are looking for a ceremony that celebrates their commitment to each other in terms of their values and perspectives. Meanwhile parents – from all walks of life – want a special celebration for their child that properly reflects their principles and family circumstances.

Our celebrants are also involved in the creation of non-religious ceremonies which mark and celebrate  the milestones in the development of their children, for example, an Age of Reason ceremony which happens at age 7-9 years.

Humanist funerals are also increasingly in demand as the HAI’s reputation for personalized and meaningful non- religious ceremonies grows. A Humanist funeral focuses on celebrating the life of the person who has died, while also expressing the sadness of losing a loved one.

 

Being a Celebrant

 

Rewarding but demanding

Conducting Humanist ceremonies is both rewarding and demanding.  Humanist celebrants are very much the public face of, and ambassadors for the Humanist Association of Ireland and the philosophy of humanism.

It is a privilege to be invited into people’s lives, to be trusted with their stories, with their emotions and asked to lead a ceremony –   a ceremony that enables friends and family to celebrate or mourn, in ways they find the most appropriate.  While it is indeed a great privilege and honour, it also carries with it a great responsibility.

It is precisely because the ceremony you are being asked to conduct is so important, individual and so highly personal that you have a clear duty and responsibility to get it right.

You also need to be aware that you will be dealing with emotional people and emotional situations so you will need to possess strong self-awareness and know your limitations.  The work can be quite demanding.

 

Personal qualities

It takes a special kind of person to do this work. The work you will be expected to do will be of an exceptional nature and of exceptionally high quality. You will have to be determined always to give your best, mindful that each ceremony is unique. You need strong personal qualities and a variety of equally important high-level skills and competencies.

As a Weddings Celebrant you will be helping a couple to make their personal commitment to each other in public, to express their feelings before families, friends and to the people who matter most to them. You will be responsible for creating the atmosphere the couple wants, coordinating contributions from family and friends, and you’ll need to be prepared to conduct ceremonies in a variety of locations.  You are also acting as a legal representative and must ensure that your ceremony is completed according to the legal requirement of the HSE.

As a Naming celebrant you will be helping parents (single, cohabiting, married, straight or gay) celebrate the arrival of a child, or children, into their lives. The children may be new babies, newly adopted, or stepchildren joining a new family. You will be responsible for coordinating the involvement of friends and family members and may be expected to help create an occasion that will make each naming ceremony particularly special.

As a Funerals Celebrant you will find that all funerals can be challenging. It is important to be aware that you will, from time to time, find yourself creating a ceremony and leading the funerals of young children or the funerals of people who have died in very tragic and traumatic circumstances.

This specific type of work requires great empathy, understanding and very delicate interpersonal skills as you will be dealing with families stunned or ravaged by grief; families struggling to make sense of a difficult reality.

 

Who are we looking for?

Individuals with sensitive and finely-tuned interpersonal skills. You will be working with people from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds.  As a lead celebrant you will need to gain their confidence and put them at ease. You will need to be a sympathetic listener and have an ability to understand their circumstances and their key facts with empathy, sensitivity and insight.

And if it is a funeral ceremony, you may find yourself working with persons in highly charged, emotional circumstances.

Diplomacy and communication skills. You will need to be friendly and assured, but always polite and sometimes firm.  A key element of the work involves listening, advising and guiding sensitively through the various options, creating an occasion that is appropriate and fitting for the circumstances.

Strong interviewing and writing skills. You will need to be a good interviewer teasing out the all-important salient facts to create accurate but memorable, sometimes poignant, often inspirational ceremony scripts.  You will need to be a highly competent written communicator.  Your writing ability   – spelling, grammar and punctuation – must always be of exceptional standard.

Creative Skills. You will have to write / construct a ceremony that is both dignified and meaningful and that captures the essence of the person or couple with words and music.

With funerals you will almost always be introducing the contributions made by friends and family members to the ceremony.

Each ceremony will be one of the most important events in the lives of the people concerned and therefore must be uniquely tailored to suit the occasion

Timing.  With funerals you will need to take account of time slots and time limits and ensure that the ceremony is gracefully concluded within the time allotted.

Presentation skills.  You will need to be well-presented in an appropriate standard of attire that is suitable and fitting for the occasion.  You will need to display a presence and authority to handle proceedings calmly, reassuringly and with sensitivity and feeling.  You will also need to have a presence of mind to allay any anxieties that occasionally surface on special occasions.

IT Skills and Driving Licence.  You will need a car, a personal computer, a printer, mobile phone/landline, email and have internet access and be proficient in word processing and Excel spreadsheets.

Accreditation and support

Your Humanist Ceremonies trainers and mentors will help you develop to a standard where you feel equipped and confident to conduct ceremonies on your own.

If you successfully complete your training you will become a provisionally accredited celebrant of the HAI and will become part of a network of celebrant colleagues in which you will receive and give support.

Full accreditation takes place after you have completed 50 ceremonies and have been observed by  a mentor successfully facilitating a number

of ceremonies.  Ongoing observation takes place throughout your time as a celebrant.

Applicant requirements:

It is a requirement that all applicants have a minimum of two consecutive years’ membership of HAI (provide the date that you became a HAI member) at the time of application and can provide evidence of active engagement in HAI activities and campaigns.

Candidates must demonstrate an ability to communicate clearly, have an empathetic nature, good judgement, excellent presentation, organisational and record keeping skills, the ability to write clearly and concisely and be computer literate.

An essential requirement is knowledge of and a whole-hearted commitment to the philosophy of Humanism.

Please note that a two year HAI membership does not in any way guarantee acceptance for interview or for training.

Short listing will apply and while we can give individual feed- back after interview stage, due to the volume of applications we are not in a position to give it at shortlisting stage.

 

Your application should consist of:

  • A covering letter outlining your suitability and reasons for wanting to be a Humanist celebrant

 

  • Details of your involvement with and contribution to the aims and objectives of the HAI to date.

 

  • A copy of your Employment CV.

 

  • The Names and Contact details of three referees: two of whom should be HAI members (also provide the date your referees became HAI members) of at least two years standing. Any person serving on the Board of Directors or the Ceremonies Management Committee cannot act as a referee.

 

  • A work/character reference

 

 

Note: 

In line with the Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020 which recommends the prioritizing of under-represented areas, we especially welcome applications from people based in Connacht, Ulster (whether Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland) and counties Longford and Louth.

Applications should be emailed to [email protected] in October 2017.

Applications received before 1st October or after 31st October will not be considered.

Incomplete applications will not be considered, and only one application per candidate will be accepted. 

Canvassing will disqualify you from application.

The results of the shortlisting process will be notified to candidates in the second week of November.

It is expected that the interviews for the shortlisted candidates will take place in the last week of November, and the results notified to candidates in early December.

The training programme for the successful candidates will commence in January, 2018.

 

Important Note

Not everyone who is accepted for training is found to be suitable, and successful completion of each stage of training is necessary before the trainee can progress to the next stage.

 

Your Commitment to the HAI on completion of training

Levy/ Fee/Contribution – As an active Celebrant for the HAI you are required to contribute an agreed fee for each ceremony you conduct. The levy contributes toward the HAI’s running costs which include administration, marketing, PR, and website maintenance, among others.

Time commitment. Your training and the ceremonies you prepare and do will take time and commitment.  If you are accepted for training and eventual provisional accreditation, you will need to be consistently available, often at short notice.