By Cynthia Dwyer
“Come and see,” my mentor said when I discerned to seek certification with the NACC. So thanks to the NACC sponsorship program, I attended the St. Louis conference in 2014. I met so many people and felt I had indeed found my professional spiritual home. I consulted with the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care about seeking certification with the NACC. Based on our common standards, reciprocity process, and the fact that the bulk of my CPE was done at Beaumont in Michigan, they gave me their support.
Last year in Arlington, VA, I looked longingly at the group of newly board-certified chaplains. A longtime BCC said, “This could be you.”
And after a lot of hard work supported by my mentor, Jim Letourneau, the NACC office, and many colleagues, family, and friends, and an interview trip to San Diego, on Aug. 5, 2015, I read the words, “Congratulations! On the basis of your pastoral work, your written materials, and your meeting with the interview team, you are granted certification with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.” Saying I was elated is an understatement.
I celebrated back in August with family and friends, but I knew I also had to go to the NACC conference in Chicago to celebrate. To be with people who understood what it meant to be newly certified. To also celebrate with Jim and the other special people who took an interest in me, personally demonstrating the mission and vision of the NACC. Although I live and work in Canada, I have felt the support of the NACC through these life-giving relationships.
The ceremony and conference were important for me for many reasons. Although I could not adequately thank the many people who supported me, it was a special opportunity to feel the accomplishment together. It meant so much to me to see so many smiling faces, especially Jim and the other people in attendance who walked so closely with me. It was a sense of completion. During the conference in Chicago, I was struck by the sudden realization that board certification was an entrance, a new beginning.
My new journey begins with the privilege of becoming a NACC country liaison for Canada. Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare’s leadership, staff and volunteers have walked this journey with me as well, and they celebrated with me again after the ceremony in Chicago. I am learning right along with them what it means to be a board-certified chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. I look forward to walking this new stage of the journey together.
Cynthia M. Dwyer, BCC, is a staff chaplain at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Ontario.