Pastoral care and the pastoral care ministry are of incredible importance in many fields of healthcare, elder care, even industry and educational institutions. The pastoral care ministry, sometimes referred to in certain environments as chaplaincy, is a vocation, a calling that requires special discernment, formation, education, instruction, life experience, and skills development. In fact, many programs preparing persons for ordination now require some CPE experience, though in many instances it is only a token experience.
There are programs that provide aspects of pastoral care skills development, usually in a healthcare setting, and referred to as CPE or clinical pastoral education. There are quite a large number of programs and several organizations accrediting CPE programs nationally and internationally. Regrettably, like any other good intention that provides for financial gain, ego enhancement, and monument building, it also attracts persons with ulterior agendas. This is true in leadership or supervisory positions and on the front lines, where many approach pastoral care from a consciously or unconsciously selfish perspective.
Numbers at programs in institutons are important and sometimes distract supervisors and managers from the necessary criteria for ensuring that only those globally and particularly qualified are turned loose on the unwary in the clinical setting. Regrettably, the race for numbers requires, as in the case of many of our education institutions, has lead to the creation of programs modeled on a “lowest common denominator,” that is, a politically correct, non-discriminating, non-directive, a-need-to-be-your-friend approach. This, in my opionion, adversely affects quality as well as morale and must stop.
Those who are genuinely called to pastoral care ministry are in a sense priests, prophets, servants, advocates, counselors, and certainly some are saints. The gift of presence, listening, empathy, and the wisdom of life experience and true spirituality when shared with a suffering brother or sister, is a truly mystical experience.
I am publishing this blog as a venue for those called and as a sounding board, a forum, as it were, for those to express delights, concerns, and as a source of helpful exchange.
All are welcome!