By David Lewellen
The NACC Board of Directors used the conference business meeting to explain the organization’s new initiatives and partnerships to promote pastoral care.
“It may sound like NACC is changing who we are, shifting focus,” said Jim Letourneau, the chair-elect of the board. “But our mission and vision have never changed. In fact, they’ve inspired us to interpret our mission and vision in new and different ways.”
The first effort will be a marketing program among Catholics to raise awareness of chaplaincy as a vocation. Members with experience in the field have formed a marketing advisory panel, and Westworld Consulting has been hired for a focused, short-term Choose Chaplaincy campaign, offering “inspiring examples of why people should want to join us” on the website and social media platforms.
APC and NACC have already collaborated on palliative care training and standards, but the two groups have now contracted with Transforming Chaplaincy to look at evidence-based outcomes for chaplaincy certification: “What works, what doesn’t work, how we can improve the certification process.” Also, national third-party surveys on staffing models and on compensations structure will be shared with members by the end of the year via NACC Now, the biweekly email newsletter.
Another collaboration is with the five strategic partners in pastoral care — CASC, AAPC, ACPE, APC, and NAJC. In the next 24 months, the six groups have agreed to work on professional ethics and advocacy for spiritual care.
Collaboration with other Catholic Church organizations will also be a major emphasis in the near future. Pastoral care is also needed in prisons, detention centers, parishes, and homes, and deacon training varies in every diocese, but there is no national program or standard. “NACC has so much to offer to support and strengthen the pastoral care ministry,” Letourneau said. The Vatican and the USCCB are studying prison ministry, and they received 600 responses to a webinar on the topic in four days. “Clearly there’s a need and a desire,” Letourneau said.
The third priority is to discern how the NACC can organize itself to achieve the first two. “It’s not quite as clear as the first two at this time, because we have a lot of moving parts,” Letourneau said. But the picture should be clearer a year from now as the organization seeks outside funding sources to develop new programming.
Tim Serban led a listening session divided by tables that provided written feedback for the board to assess.
Before the meeting, Linda Arnold led a memorial service for NACC members who have died within the past year.
“This is truly a kairos moment in the life of NACC,” Beverly Beltramo said in her closing prayer. “So much is possible, so much is yet to be born.”