By David Lichter
As I sat on the steps leading down to the water at University of St. Mary of the Lake, a stillness pervaded the scene and my spirit. The early morning sunrise glistened off the calm waters, and I felt deeply grateful for this 2019 conference in Mundelein, IL, and for the many who contributed to it, from the many Raskob Foundation partners who helped plan and provided workshops, as well as our many members who offered workshops and volunteered time, and our generous, selfless, tireless staff.
In my introduction to conference registration brochure, I wrote, “Continuing the healing ministry in the name of the Church requires of us partnerships across a wide spectrum of care. … We can’t serve alone; diverse partnerships are vital. Our 2019 NACC Conference will be a unique experience for our NACC members and the many providing pastoral care in the name of the Church … This will not be our usual conference.”
The feedback received so far is that it was unique, from the USML setting to the plenaries and types of workshops offered. Most liked it very much. I hope most were refreshed and renewed. Let me highlight three things that were important to me and the future of NACC.
First of all, in the NACC 2018-2020 Strategic Plan, our second priority is that the NACC will lead in strengthening the pastoral care ministry of the Church. This conference provided a launching point for that leadership, as we shared the work to date of developing our documents and resources on pastoral care for dioceses. These were referred to in the pre-conference six-hour workshops on prison ministry, senior care, and diocesan pastoral care preparation programs. These will be further developed, and more examples of pastoral care training programs will be added to that site in 2019.
Secondly, our Strategic Plan mentions that you, our NACC members, will have more ways to “be in relationship with, a leader for, and professional/education resource within the local Catholic community and its bishop leaders.” It was wonderful to have several of our members lead workshops in which they described how they were already leaders and professional resources for pastoral care training in their dioceses. They gave excellent examples of ways we can all be more engaged in helping our dioceses prepare people for pastoral care service, whether in homes, senior living facilities, prisons or jails. This is such important work. We also believe, as our Strategic Plan states, that “Future board-certified chaplains will be reached mainly though the hundreds of Catholics who are being attracted to, already involved in, or affected by some form of pastoral care ministry in the Church.” Our visibility in helping those involved in volunteer pastoral care will make them more aware that chaplaincy can be a fulltime ministry. Your encouragement of them is vital for the future of our profession!
Thirdly, I was so grateful for the many Partners in Pastoral Care from our Raskob Foundation partners who were willing to participate or lead workshops. They included:
- Sr. M. Peter Lillian Di Maria, director, Avila Institute of Gerontology
- Denice Foose, BCC, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
- Deacon Edgardo Farías, director of detention ministry, Archdiocese of Miami
- Lisa Burkhart, associate professor, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago
- Hyun Underwood, BCC, supervisor of permanent deacon formation, Diocese of Honolulu
- Sr. Dominga Zapata, S.H., Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral, USML, Mundelein
- John H. Schultz, director of Catholic healthcare chaplaincy at ArchCare New York
- Glenda R. Spearman, BCC, senior staff chaplain, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- Marc DelMonico, assistant director, USCCB Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service
- Harry J. Dudley, retired from the job that Marc Delmonico now holds
- Elisabeth Román, president, National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry
- Carol Walters, former president of National Association of Lay Ministry
- Jean Marie Weber, Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry and Cardinal Stritch University
- Fr. Andrew Sioleti, National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains
It was so inspiring and assuring to have them participate and continue to partner in continuing the healing ministry in the name of the Church.
Next year we will be with our other four Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care (ACPE, APC, CASC, and NAJC) in Cleveland for Vision 20/20: The Future of Spiritual Care to concentrate on our first 2018-2020 strategic priority: advancing the future of spiritual care. But we will continue to foster our Catholic ministry partnerships and provide resources for dioceses to strengthen their pastoral care ministries. We look forward to working with you to determine how we can best support these efforts in your respective dioceses. My 2019 World Day of the Sick letter to our bishops explained our efforts to provide resources for them.
As you return from the pastoral setting of our conference to the daily routine of your work, thank you again for all that you have done and continue to do for your patients in the name of Jesus and the Church.