Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 17 Sep 2013 8:44 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    "Reconciliation," by Josefina de Vasconcellos


    We faced another crisis in the Middle East as we recently marked 9/11 -- with outcome uncertain.

    Last month I attended the dedication of a labyrinth I helped to build. Afterward, the pastor invited me to his Friday morning service when I told him I liked small churches (mine has 12,000). As we few men gathered the word "shul" popped into my head along with the memory of a dimly-lit room where I formed minion for two Jewish friends.

    I value Sacramental reconciliation and religious practices such as Yom Kippur and labyrinths that aid inner healing. We can help people with spiritual healing by accepting the efficacy of their own reconciliation, in words and in silence. A few years ago I found a kind of inner healing in my first labyrinth and visiting the grave of my fallen brother in France. We each heal differently. To require a standard of silence or word reconciliation could mean judging others who may already harshly judged themselves. The only standard for a labyrinth is in its own construction, not what goes on inside the person who walks it. I would like to become a conduit like that.

    As for the use of words, I rationalized my shul memory by retrieving an old review of Walker Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome: "Perhaps the single most important idea in Percy's epistemology, expressed again and again in his essays and interviews ... is his conviction that impoverishment in the power to name experience causes a subsequent impoverishment of consciousness ... since it is only through language transactions with others that the self locates who and where it is."

    Percy struggled with unresolved loss for many years, as I did. Nations, too, struggle with grief and loss, as we did after 9/11 and still do after two long wars in the Middle East. If as individuals we struggle to name our experiences, we also struggle as a nation in our attempts to reconcile our losses. We use words and the silence of our being to locate ourselves among other "living documents" to whom we minister. I pray that nations will continue to do the same.

    _________

    Dominic Fuccillo is a CPSP Clinical Chaplain in Littleton, Colorado. Josefina's sculpture has been placed in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and copies are in the Hiroshima Peace Park, among other locations.

  • 10 Sep 2013 8:48 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    We are excited about the fall meeting of the National Clinical Training Seminar-East on Nov. 11-12, 2013 at San Alfonso Retreat Center, Long Branch, New Jersey.

    Our is presenter is Dr. Dwight Sweezy. He is a Diplomate with CPSP and a member of Princeton Chapter. Dr. Sweezy is an ordained elder Free Methodist Church of North America. He has 12 years of parish experience. He holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation. He attended a Summer Theology program at Oxford University. Ten units of his CPE training was in two mental health settings. He recently retired as the Director of Pastoral Services, Trenton Psychiatric Hospital (33 years). There he developed a dynamic equivalent clinical pastoral program that has become a CPE extended resident program. He continues to supervise CPE Training Residents and Supervisors-in- Training. He is a retired US Army Reserve Chaplain (L TC) – 26 years. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Linda, who is a retired ordained United Methodist minister. For fun, he likes motorcycling, sailing, camping SCCA Solo racing, reading and bicycling.

    For three years, Dr. Sweezy served as a consultant for the supervisors in training at Episcopal Health Services, Inc. Far Rockaway, New York.

    As always, the National Clinical Training Seminar-East is a working conference built around psychodynamic small group process. Participants are to bring clinical work and life material for reflection and review with in the group process.

    Click here for additional information and online registration.

    Please make your plans to attend as together we address the theme: Mental Health Issues Impact Pastoral Care.

    http://www.cpspoffice.org/the_archives/2013/08/national_clinic_11.html#


  • 10 Sep 2013 8:07 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    PROPHETIC VOICE - Pastoral Care Week is proud to celebrate it’s 28th year by reflecting on the Prophetic Voices in our daily rounds. Historically voices spoke loudly through pastors and chaplains – promoting self-awareness and social action. Today, chaplains are privileged to find the truth in small places each day….how does it speak?

    From the website: 

    The Prophetic Voice is always in our midst. It calls us to reach for action and peace - to sustain that which brings us hope, well-being, dreams, and renewal.  Like a seed caught in the wind - quiet and inconspicuous. It may be in disguise and mistrusted, yet it endures the foul weather and seasons to prove true. When acknowledged, it grows into a wise tree to shelter, nourish and teach us.

    (The 2013 logo represents this quieted seed.)

    Regardless of faith tradition, Pastoral Care Week celebrates those who provide pastoral care to others. It is endorsed by the Congress on Ministries in Specialized Settings (COMISS), whose members provide pastoral care in specialized settings such as hospitals, prisons, businesses, industries, long term care facilities, pastoral counseling centers, hospices, military settings, nursing homes, congregations of sisters, priests and brothers, schools, universities, and seminaries throughout the world. CPSP is a proud member of COMISS.

    Educate your community, colleagues, institutions and friends - many resources, including governmental proclamations, artwork, seminars and merchandise, are available for local celebrations. For more information, visit www.pastoralcareweek.org.

    *The last date for ordering is this weekend - September 13th! Make your plans today.

    _____________________________________

    Chaplain Linda Walsh-Garrison
    revlindawalsh@yahoo.com

  • 03 Sep 2013 9:13 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    I never would have believed I would be grateful to see a hand rail beside a toilet seat. Or feel cared for by a woman’s voice somewhere in telephone never never land instructing me on how to fix my TV. Nor could I have imagined the comfort felt in a nurse’s touch. 

    Such are the surprises when you fall and break your hip. Surprised by facts you knew long before but which must be lost and found again and again. 

    Six weeks after the “accident” it is hard to write about what happened, difficult to visit the scene, and remember again the details. It is nothing that dramatic really- a fall on the cement walk resulting in a clean break in the hip. Far worse things befall us. Nevertheless there is a darkness about it, images the mind resists. It is as if your system has been frightened and is trying to protect itself, still wanting to be done with the whole thing. Put it all out of mind. 

    Coupled with this reluctance, however, there is also the embarrassment of it all, the difficulty of facing the fact of your own carelessness. One old man in a rain storm on a step ladder. Could disaster be far off? It will be referred to as an accident but in your own mind you know it wasn’t; it was carelessness. And however many times you go over the details the end of the story is always the same. So you put on your hair shirt and beat yourself up about it. 

    But time passes and if you watch there are other moments, openings that arise as if by chance, that will not be sent away.

    By good fortune Norma was able to get me gathered up off the walk, into the car and to the emergency ward where the system worked –chaotically but superbly. In retrospect we should have called an ambulance but we didn’t. Within 24 hours, however, I was through surgery and repaired -pin, plate and all, forever after able to set off the beepers at security and give all the little folk in charge reason to be suspicious and feel useful. A live 77 year old terrorist. Even more fortuitously after a few days the hospital needed my bed and it was suggested I be shipped out to a physio program. Done. And here I am home -all in just over 3 weeks, getting better. Recovering to some state of normalcy will take longer but it will happen.

    I wouldn’t recommend the experience to anyone but now that it has happened and I have time to reflect on events there are stories to be told. There are three that I would share with you.

    1.Throughout the hospital stay and since then, besides expert medical attention, perhaps the most reassuring aspect of the treatment was what I would term the intimacy that prevailed at unexpected moments. That is to say nurses, doctors, physios, family members, yes and the cleaning lady and the barber, were able to come close, speak and most importantly touch, in ways that lifted the spirit. 

    The young doctor in the emergency room who came close, put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye and said “I think it’s broke but we will make sure and fix you up”, the nurse in the night who stood by the bed and rubbed my arm and asked what I needed, visitors who sat near my bed, hand outstretched to stroke my hand, the presence of my family –confirmed what I had known and talked about and even tried to teach but now knew as if for the fist time. 

    When you are lying in your bed in the night, troubled by what has happened and wondering how healing will occur, when you can’t take care of basic functions on your own and there is no alternative but to call for help, it seems to me you are returned to a state of early childhood. Certainly you are afraid, feel alone. One of the things that occurs on the battlefield is that a wounded soldier will be heard to call out for his mother. I don’t want to suggest that my state was near that severe but something of the same atmosphere prevailed. The usual layers of protection, bravado, assumptions about one’s dignity, were peeled away and like an infant in the arms of its mother I was grateful for a nurse stroking your hand and calling me by name.

    2. Soon after discharge from the physio program there was a dinner to which we had been invited honoring a friend for her accomplishments in the community. There was some doubt I would be mobile enough but, with a walker and some caution, we loaded up and departed. I should say that in an event like this suddenly little things assume an importance you don’t realize under normal conditions. Getting over a door step, up a stair or two and above all, navigating toilets become issues. How do you go to the toilet with some degree of dignity? The basic issue is how do you lower yourself onto a toilet seat and then raise yourself from it. Under normal conditions nothing to it. But in a public washroom with your pants at half mast and your hip complaining bitterly and with no nurse to give you a hand it’s different.

    As we entered the dining facility I at once took note of the toilet signs and decided to check things out to be on the safe side. It was with relief when I managed to get through the door and encountered a spacious room in which there was situated four toilets, one of which was reserved for wheel chairs. More than that in the wheel chair stall there was a toilet, raised a few inches higher than normal, beside which there was anchored a hand rail. How lovely is thy dwelling place, O lord of hosts. Under normal conditions such things don’t register, objects of interest in someone else’s world, but now you see them in a whole new light. With a handrail you can sit down with some confidence and in time raise yourself up, find your balance, and restore yourself, your pants in place and your dignity intact. 

    3. The first evening after arriving home I was all set to watch a football game only to discover that the TV was on the fritz, the settings out of order. There was no alternative but to phone the satellite company and get help. At the best of times this can be an ordeal. To begin with you often make contact with someone on the other side of the world whose English is often on a par with your ability in their native tongue. Or, equally difficult, you are greeted by a computer geek who speaks computerese well but English is quite another matter. 

    To my delight, akin to seeing a toilet with a hand rail, I was greeted by a woman’s voice, middle age I would say and who I could understand perfectly. She asked a question or two and then said to go to the machine and turn off the power. I told her she would have to bear with me as I had just returned from hospital with a broken hip and movement was an issue. As if she had just graduated from a course in pastoral care she stopped and asked what had happened, a note of concern in her voice, and went on to enquire as to how I was and to reassure me that I would not have to move again. She didn’t know what she had done and I did not try to tell her. 

    So what am I to conclude from all this? I could wax eloquent on the meaning that lies here. The theological openings, the opportunity to put in a good word for God, are endless. But I will spare you that. Rather I wish to express gratitude for friends and family, for professionals with a job to do, who were there, able to come close and touch and give expression to that inexpressible other that lies between us.

    ______________________

    Ron Evans is a CPSP Diplomate living in Saskatchewan, Canada is a a published author. He has frequently presented his poetry and prose at meetings of the CPSP Plenary as well as contributed articles for publication in the Pastoral Report.

    The following are two of his recent book publications:

    Coming Home: Saskatchewan Remembered


  • 25 Aug 2013 9:17 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Pictured from left to right: Patricia DeHart, Mac Wallace, Marcelle Brathwaite,
    David Franzen, Matthew Rhodes, Maria Sobremisana, Cesar Espineda, 
    Emma Wallace, Joan Alevras, Emeka Nwigwe, Phillip Pinckard, Joel Harvey, 
    and Robert Griffin.

    The Institute for Psychodynamic Pastoral Supervision ) met for its second annual Summer Intensive week of study at Avila Retreat Center in Durham, NC. Present were the four faculty members: David Franzen, Joel Harvey, Cesar Espineda, and Mac Wallace, four doctoral student in the first cohort, and five doctoral students in the second cohort. These students are enrolled in the Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Ministry degree program in pastoral supervision offered by IPPS and the Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF).

    The first cohort of doctoral students focused on cultural understandings and misunderstandings that are inevitable working with international and intercultural students. The second cohort focused on understanding and using Tavistock methods of group leadership. Additionally, the daily Group Relations Seminars involved both cohorts and the faculty members. These were rich and intense sessions that provided the participants an opportunity to work with some intimate, interpersonal dynamics along with consultation from the faculty.

    Following this Summer Intensive Week of Studies, each cohort will meet weekly for 2-hour videoconferences for 16 weeks in the fall semester and 16 weeks in the spring semester. These classes will use classical texts and case studies to study psychoanalytical theories of human development, theory and practice of psychodynamic supervision, theological integration, and will emphasize the integration of theory and practice.

    The first cohort will complete its coursework with IPPS in May of 2014. Then they will take a prescribed course of studies with GTF and complete their doctoral project with materials they will use to present for certification as a Diplomate in CPE/T supervision. The second cohort will have its second Summer Intensive week of study in August of 2014 along with a group of new students to be selected for the next (third) cohort. Applications are currently being received for the third cohort, and the deadline for these applications is June 1, 2014.

    The IPPS and GTF doctoral degree program began as a dream of David Franzen, the late John Edgerton. The Chapel Hill chapter and provides doctoral students a constant source of support and consultation. After several years of planning, it has become a reality, and the chapter continues to provide consultation for the faculty around student selection and curriculum development along with assistance with review of applications for admission. Interested applicants to IPPS should contact Dr. David Franzen, 12 Winthrop Court, Durham, NC 27707; phone, 919-493-7177; email, drdavidfranzen@gmail.com

    ____________________________

    H. Mac Wallace, D. Min.
    CPSP Diplomate
    Board Certified Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Supervisor
    hmacw@yahoo.com


  • 16 Aug 2013 9:21 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Frederick Memorial Hospital, the Reverend Kay Myers, PhD, certified CPE supervisor,
    the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, DC, Rabbi Jim Michaels, D.Min., certified CPE supervisor,
    Hospice of the Panhandle, satellite site of Meritus Medical Center, Martinsburg, WV,
    Hospice of Washington County, Inc., satellite site of Meritus Medical Center,
    Meritus Medical Center, Hagerstown, the Rev. David C. Baker, PhD, certified CPE supervisor,
    Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH), the Rev. C. K. Sim, D. Min.,certified CPE supervisor.

    On June 20, 2013 Frederick Memorial Hospital and the Pastoral Care Department hosted Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) day, sponsored by the Baltimore Chapter, College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Approximately thirty six participates attended from four accredited CPE sites and two satellite centers attended. 

    Also participating was a 50 hour Clinical Pastoral Orientation program at Western Maryland Hospital Center led by the Rev. Richard Bower.

    The morning presentation was Responding When the Family Wants a Miracle, Presenter: Phil Pinckard, Chaplain, Meritus Medical Center, Hagerstown, MD . The afternoon presentation was The Ethics Committee as a Venue for Pastoral Care, Presenter: James Michaels, Director of Pastoral Care, Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, DC . The morning and afternoon presentations were followed by 90-minute small groups of students, diplomates and supervisors-in-training in which students presented case presentations.

    Kay Myers, PhD
    Director, Pastoral Care Services
    Frederick Memorial Hospital
    GMYERS@fmh.org

  • 08 Aug 2013 9:25 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Francine Hernandez, NCTS-East Coordinator, announced that the National Clinical Training Seminar-East will meet Nov. 11-12, 2013 at San Alfonso Retreat Center, Long Branch, New Jersey. She encourages all to mark these dates on your calendar and plan to attend.

    Check back with the Pastoral Report for further information as it becomes available. 

    For additional information, contact Francine Hernandez, NCTS-East Coordinator.
    fhernand@ehs.org

  • 05 Aug 2013 9:29 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    NCTS-West is just a month away. We are pleased to announce that Jack Lampl and Charla Hayden, international leaders in group relations theory and practice from the A.K. Rice Institute, will be presenting and consulting to the September 8-10 seminar in Citrus Heights, California, just outside Sacramento.

    Those who attended the 2013 CPSP Plenary in Las Vegas have already met Jack and Charla. Jack is the president of the A.K. Rice Institute. Charla is co-author of the foundational introduction to group relations process, The Tavistock Primer.

    This NCTS will be especially valuable to new Chapters and those looking to improve their chapter life, as well as to those involved in offering training such as CPE supervisors and SITs.

    Registration is limited. Register at: http://copsap1.wildapricot.org/events?eventId=693207&EventViewMode=EventRegistration

    -David Roth

    _______________

    For more Information: -David Roth

  • 31 Jul 2013 9:35 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    After retiring, in 2011, as a chaplain at Boston Medical Center, I was later rehired to provide coverage, as needed, for the present chaplains. My most recent work led to an encounter with a person that brought to the fore the transforming power of human love. The interaction was not with a patient, but with a staff person.

    She is a white woman, about to retire after many years of service to the hospital. As we reminisced about our relationship over the years, she said, “Would you like to see a picture of my new granddaughter?” “Sure,” I replied. With that, she took an album from her purse, and proudly showed me photos of a beautiful little black baby. She then handed me pictures of her white daughter and black son-in-law. As I admired the photos, she lovingly said, “Mixed children are beautiful.” I enthusiastically agreed—marveling at the power of her love that transcended the once- traditional non-black enclave in which she lives.

    This proud grandmother reminded me of certain retired ministers in the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church, who, in 1998, formed a Conference-wide group called Reconciling Retired Clergy—with their number growing to 100 over the years. Their mission: to work for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) persons in the life of The United Methodist Church. It meant challenging The Church’s Book of Discipline’s belief that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” They supported ministers who were brought to church trial for being gay or lesbian, and those brought to trial for performing same-sex marriages. They also began performing same-sex marriages, and called for the ordination of LGBTQ persons. Their work, and that of other reconciling ministerial and lay groups in Methodism, has made performing same sex marriages more tolerated. They have helped to turn United Methodism’s exclusionary policies into a state of flux, with their influence also seen in several United Methodist bishops now openly challenging the Church’s anti-homosexual doctrine—enabled, no doubt, by the influence of same sex marriages becoming legal in several states.

    What led some of these Bible verses-influenced, culturally-conditioned, United Methodist Book of Discipline-believing ministers to change their minds? In time, certain of them discovered that they, themselves, had a son who is gay, or a daughter who is lesbian—or the son or daughter of a relative, or ministerial colleague, or family friend. The issue had hit home—or close to home. It was now about bonding, not The Bible or The Book of Discipline. Their heart told them that sexually “mixed children are beautiful .” Just as “beautiful and loved and worthy and creative and moral as any other child—or adult. 

    Appreciation is expressed to friend and colleague Rev. Richard E. Harding, founder of the New England Conference’s Reconciling Retired Clergy, who contributed information for this article

    ___________________________________________

    Bill Alberts, CPSP diplomate and member of the Concord, NH chapter, was a hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center from December 1992 until he retired in July 2011. His book, A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, based on his visits with patients at BMC, is available on Amazon.com. An occasional contributor to Counterpunch, the ramifications of the gay marriage he performed at Boston’s Old West United Methodist Church in 1973 are detailed in “Easter Depends on Whistleblowers: The Minister Who Could Not Be ‘Preyed’ Away,” Counterpunch, March 29-31, 2013) The photograph is of Bill and his almost two-year-old granddaughter, Aoife.

    Email: wm.alberts@gmail.com

  • 29 Jul 2013 9:39 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Rev. Doctor Steven Voytovich, a CPSP Diplomate in Psychotherapy and Clinical Pastoral Supervision, was recently appointed dean of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, effective August 18.

    Bishop Michael, Ph.D., Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, made these comments:

    “I am well pleased that Fr. Steven will be joining St. Tikhon’s Seminary as our Dean. His pastoral, leadership, academic and work related credentials are superb and we look forward to Fr. Steven moving St. Tikhon’s to new heights. On behalf of the board of trustees, faculty, staff and students we welcome him and offer our prayers for his new ministry.”

    When the Pastoral Report made contact with Dr. Voytovich about this development he remarked:

    "This represents a new chapter in my vocational journey that I am excited about, including some dimension of clinical training in the Orthodox Church that I have represented in the greater pastoral care and counseling community for fourteen years.

    Though I attended St. Vladimir's Seminary for my own theological formation, this represents a form of a homecoming to bringing my chaplaincy journey to be accessible to those preparing to serve as pastors."

    St. Tikhon’s Seminary appointment of Dr. Dr. Voytovich whose major professional strengths are in the clinical pastoral care and counseling field is refreshing.

    We of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy wish both Dr. Dr. Voytovich and St. Tikhon’s Seminary well in this new and exciting partnership.

    Perry Miller, Editor

    Steven Voytovich can be contacted at: voytsc@earthlink.net