By Nancy Cook
This has been an exciting time to serve on the Standards Commission. We have adopted new standards for palliative care, and, most significantly, our NACC Standards have been renewed for seven years. It took a major effort for the Standards Commission to prepare NACC Standards and procedures for the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service.
Working towards a July 2014 submission deadline with preapproval from the Board, the Standards Commission vigorously reviewed NACC Certification Standards and procedures, aligning them to the USCCB National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers. We also decided that at this juncture it would be appropriate to review revision recommendations from the NACC Research Task Force and the 2011 Spiritual Care Collaboration Task Force. In all of this work, we had to consider the Common Standards we share with our cognate group APC, NAJC, and CASC.
Our process included a crosswalk of the NACC Standards and the USCCB competencies. This gap analysis helped to determine how well our 2007 Standards aligned with the USCCB competencies and how to recommend revisions. USCCB competencies fall under four standards: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, and Pastoral. The NACC Standards 303.7 and 302.21 illustrate our process and outcomes.
Standard 303.7 Attend to one’s own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being aligns, without revision, with the USCCB competency of Balanced Life Skills of Standard Four: Pastoral. However, 302.21 required revision for alignment.
Standard 302.21 Demonstrate an understanding of scripture, current theology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and Catholic social teaching was aligned with USCCB’s Standard Three: Intellectual with 15 corresponding competencies. To meet the gap, Standard 302.21 was revised to read, Demonstrate an understanding of Vatican ll and Post-Vatican ll documents of the Church, Systematic/Foundational Theology, Scripture, Theology of Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, Catholic Social Teaching, Canon Law, and Ecumenical and Interreligious Practice.
The Standard 302.21 revision, as with all revisions, required the Standards Commission to identify affected areas. For example, the revisions must be addressed with the Certification Commission and by extension the certification interviewers and future applicants. Coordination was also required with the Education Advisory Panel for an overall education plan. Additionally, we considered how the revisions may affect future CPE instruction.
This was significant work that we took with confidence to the USCCB. I would like to thank our Standards Commission members, Peg McGonigal, Wendi Steinberg, and Sr. Helen Waugh. And a special thank you to members Cheryl Wilson Weiss, who constructed the crosswalk, and to Bob Barnes, who has an incredible and helpful memory on the history of the Standards.
Nancy Cook, MDiv, MSW, BCC is regional director of spiritual care at CHRISTUS Health in southeast Texas.