By David A. Lichter, D. Min.
Q What was changed in the 302 Theory of Pastoral Care section?
A Only two standards were revised in 302 Theory of Pastoral Care Section: 302.21 and 302.5.
302.21 Demonstrate an understanding of scripture, current theology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and Catholic social teaching.
It now reads:
302.21 Demonstrate an understanding of Vatican II and Post-Vatican II documents of the Church, Systematic/Foundational Theology, Scripture, Theology of the Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, Catholic Social Teaching, Canon Law, Ecumenical and Interreligious Practice.
These additions of several theological disciplines align with the intellectual competencies expected in the USCCB Standard Three: Intellectual which are: Vatican II and Post-Vatican II documents of the Church, systematic/ foundational theology, scripture; theology of the Trinity, Christology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, liturgy; spirituality, ethics/moral theology, social and ecological justice, pastoral theology, canon law.
While the NACC cannot expect that a certification applicant has a graduate-level course in each of these areas, the USCCB introduction to Standard Three expresses that an applicant should demonstrate “understanding of the breadth of Catholic theological and pastoral studies as well as the intellectual skill to use that knowledge in ministry with God’s people from diverse populations and cultures.” This statement emphasizes both understanding and an integration of that understanding into one’s chaplaincy ministry. Applicants should also be able to show where they have been exposed to each of these topics, whether in a course, a workshop, a webinar, reading, or other means, as well as provide examples of how this understanding influences how their approach to their chaplaincy practice.
302.5 added “and practical,” as it is important to evidence in one’s professional practice how one applies what one knows about group dynamics and organizational behavior.
Q What was changed in the 303 Identity and Conduct section?
A This section added a new first standard, plus another specific standard that read:
303.1 Articulate an understanding of the responsibility of the public nature of a chaplain’s role.
303.11 Articulate an understanding of one’s baptismal call and chaplaincy as a ministry of the church
The USCCB Standard Two: Spiritual included the competency, “An understanding of their role as a public minister.” The NACC could readily embrace this competency because of the public nature of a board-certified chaplain, who represents the chaplaincy profession with its code of ethics. This USCCB standard also included this competency: “An understanding of their baptismal call and the ecclesial elements of ministry.” That competency again could readily be adapted, as most NACC applicants see their chaplaincy ministry as a “call” to serve. It seemed best to place these standards at the beginning of all these Identity and Conduct standards, as they seemed to provide a motivational basis (one’s identity flows from one’s calling to chaplaincy) for the standards to follow.
The other additions to this Identity and Conduct section are in Standard 303.8 Attend to one’s own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This standard already had a special standard under it, 303.81 Articulate a spirituality grounded in a relationship with God, self, and others. Now two more standards specify ways to attend to one’s own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being:
303.82 Demonstrate one’s commitment to ongoing faith development and spiritual growth.
303.83 Demonstrate life-work balance skills, including time management.
The USCCB Standard Four: Pastoral identified two competencies — balanced lifestyle skills and time management skills — that seemed to be worthy additions to this 303.8 standard, as they are very important to a board-certified chaplain’s overall care for him- or herself.
Q What was changed in the 304 Pastoral section?
A This section added two new standards at the end:
304.10 Demonstrate skills in organization, leadership, or supervision of others, as needed.
304.11 Facilitate group processes, such as family meetings, post-trauma, staff debriefing, and support groups, and provide conflict management as needed.
Standard 304.10 was finalized after much discussion, as the Standards and Certification Commission members tried to address several new realities in our profession. The USCCB Standard Four; Pastoral included the competency of organizing and supervising of volunteers. We know that in most settings where board-certified chaplains are employed, the use of volunteers is or will be a reality, and this competency is important. However, the commissioners also saw the need for a board-certified chaplain to organize, lead, and supervise others, besides or beyond volunteers, such as other members of a pastoral care department. While not all board-certified members will become directors of pastoral care departments, any board-certified member should be able exhibit this skill.
Standard 304.11 was not a competency in the USCCB standards, but reflects another development in our services. More and more board-certified chaplains are required to be good group facilitators as the breadth of chaplaincy services expands, especially among staff.
Q What changed in the 305 Professional section?
A This section only added one standard at the end:
305:7 Articulate how primary research and research literature inform the profession of chaplaincy and one’s spiritual care practice.
This also was not in the USCCB standards, but represents an important growth in the profession. Since the 2004 adoption of the Common Standards, research of chaplaincy has grown. When the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care Settings were developed and endorsed in 2009, it included Standard 12 Research: The chaplain practices evidence-based care including ongoing evaluation of new practices and, when appropriate, contributes to or conducts research.
The expectation here will be how familiar an applicant is with the research literature on chaplaincy and how the applicant can relate insights from research to his or her own chaplaincy profession.
As you can see, these revisions do not reflect a major overhaul of the 2007 Standards; instead, they are helpful additions that capture the evolution of the board-certified chaplain’s role. The NACC Certification and Standards Commissions’ members, as well as the NACC Board of Directors, realize that these NACC Standards for certification are vital to the chaplaincy profession. We have been in dialogue with the other cognate members, especially the Association of Professional Chaplains, during these months of review and revision, and are committed to work with our cognate partners on any further review and revision of the Common Standards for Professional Chaplains. We look forward to furthering our collaboration and advancing the profession together.