By Mary T. O’Neill
There have been many changes in the NACC Standards over the past several years. When our centers were accredited by USCCB/CCA, we needed to find ways to respond to the NACC Standards, while giving special attention to the USCCB/CCA Standards that were common to all USCCB/CCA accredited centers. Now that our accrediting agency is ACPE, we need to demonstrate how we comply with the ACPE Standards and learning outcomes for levels I, II, and supervisory education. The opportunities and challenges continue to keep us engaged, attentive, and responsible in the CPE curriculum.
This article will attempt to give some helpful hints to CPE supervisors who are working with students who anticipate NACC certification as chaplains.
Historically, members of the various cognate groups for chaplains worked together to formulate the Common Standards. These were approved for all groups in 2005. While NACC was well-represented on those working groups, some significant elements of our Catholic identity were not included in the Common Standards. Our Standards Committee studied the document carefully and added to the Common Standards the elements of our theology and pastoral practice that were not covered. We have been working with these since their approval in 2007. The additions were identified by indentations in the left margins.
More recently, when the USCCB reorganized and discontinued accreditation for CPE programs, they requested that all the training programs conform to the formation outlined in the document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord. Therefore, our adopted Common Standards, with the additions made in 2007, were once more reviewed and aligned with the Co-Workers document. Consequently, some additional Standards were added to comply more directly with the pastoral letter. These have been approved by the subcommittee of the USCCB. As has been our custom for many years, the local ordinary endorses as “lay ecclesial ministers” and the NACC certifies endorsed persons as “chaplains.”
Students are responsible for their own learning and for knowing the requirements of the profession. Nonetheless, the CPE supervisor can alert the student to the requirements and available resources. The following are some suggested ways of assisting students who are Roman Catholic and who are in groups with peers who are of other faith traditions:
- Align Catholic students’ learning goals/contracts with NACC Standards. (Standards 300s)
- Have a list of Catholic theological books that they can read to learn more about Catholic theology and practice (Standard 302.21).
- Verify that their theological education included the required subjects (302.21 scripture, current theology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and Catholic social teaching)
- Have students read current and full research articles (not abstracts or briefs) and learn the language of research, perhaps sparking interest in the field of research (Standard 305.7).
- Read books, listen to CDs, and find articles that inform, educate, and evoke reflection and growth. (303.11, 303.82, 303.83, 304.11).
- Locate an online or local university course in an area of deficiency.
- Be alert to webinars and conferences, that address Catholic social teaching, medical ethics, etc.
- Have library, online, and other resources to improve competency.
- Help students integrate theory and practice by adding to the verbatim reflection questions to strengthen the articulation of competencies.
Some easily available resources to begin with:
- USCCB website has abundant resources and links to Catholic social teaching documents and encyclicals.
- Center for Catholic Studies, John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave., St Paul, MN, (651) 962-5200
- Catholic audio and video courses (Now You Know Media, 12115 Parklawn Drive, Unit B, Rockville, MD 20852)
- Catholic Health Association resources, especially for ethics, ERDs, mission
- Ascension Health: Health Care Ethics: A resource library of ethical issues in Healthcare.
- >Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, general editor
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a sampling of some resources and ideas to integrate knowledge and practice. Hopefully, it will help both supervisors and students be better prepared to engage the changes in the NACC Standards. Please feel free to share any ideas or practices that can enrich or enhance this learning process.
This topic will be expanded upon at the upcoming annual conference in Arlington, VA, in workshop SA10. See you there!
Mary T. O’Neill, BCC, D.Min., is vice president for spiritual care and pastoral education at Catholic Health Services, Long Island, NY.