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Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

Chaplaincy Preparation

Are you discerning a vocation as a Professional Healthcare Chaplain?

In both the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) and Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree programs of the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) there is a unique healthcare ministries concentration to prepare students for the entire process to be certified as a Board Certified Chaplain (BOC) with The National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) or The Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). 

Click here for more information about the IPS MAPS degree 

More information about the IPS M.Div. degree can be found here.

Additional chaplaincy resouces:


What Is Chaplaincy?

Chaplains attend to sacred stories of those confronting change in their lives. As the patient struggles to find meaning, relationship with God, as well as sense of identity and self-worth, come into question. The chaplain is trained to listen to the patient's story, to be present to the patient's values, and to reframe the crisis in the context of these values.

The role of the chaplain in health care has changed radically in the past several decades. There was a time in Catholic health care that the bulk of the spiritual support was provided by women religious or the ordained. However, technological change, reduced numbers of clergy, and the expanded ministerial opportunities made available have contributed to a significant shift in chaplaincy. Chaplains are now expected to have expertise in areas that reflect the increased sophistication of health care today. These areas include risk assessment, crisis intervention, advocacy, cultural and religious diversity, ethics, integration of the patient's story into a larger faith perspective, ritual support, end-of-life issues, and bereavement and grief. Chaplains are continually called to walk the line between medicine's institutional tendencies and individual conscience. Chaplains are trained to honor the patient's agenda; the patient is the person who decides what has meaning and how that meaning is lived in his or her own spirituality. In a crisis, it is often the chaplain who acts as liaison between the patient and medical personnel.

Perhaps the most important act of healing a chaplain can perform is to empower the patient or family member to access his or her own spiritual and religious coping strategies. This is both the heart and challenge of chaplaincy.


Is Chaplaincy My Vocation?

Consider yourself a minister attending to the sick, preparing a person to accept the hour of death, leading a family in a worshipful grieving of their loss. "If you have a deeply compassionate heart and care about people in need; if you want to make a real difference in people in crisis, then the answer is definitely Yes! Join the 10,000 chaplains of different faiths who daily serve in diverse settings including: hospitals, hospice, palliative care, mental health, prisons and other settings where people experience life's pain and setbacks. Caring chaplains can help people who seek to understand their lives from a faith perspective. You can be with them offering them hope, healing, and strength through your loving presence" (taken from NACC website). The NACC website will help you examine the vocation of chaplaincy. You will especially enjoy the video clip and get answers to several questions such as, what is a chaplain do?; Are there jobs available?; What is the pay of a chaplain like? The NACC is the official certifying agency for Catholic chaplains.


Clinical Preparation

A major piece incorporated into the IPS health care ministries track is the requirement for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounter with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships. This description is taken from the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education website. This link will bring you answers to many questions about this formation process.


What Is Certification As A Chaplain?

The National Association of Catholic Chaplains certifies Catholic chaplains. The Association for Professional Chaplains certifies Protestant chaplains. The certification process for each of these accrediting agencies differ to some extent. The healthcare ministries concentration of the IPS degrees can satisfy the requirements of both agencies.

Professional employment as a chaplain generally requires certification.

A certified chaplain is one who meets these standards:

These standards for professional chaplaincy (common for both the NACC and APC) are met through IPS’s MDiv and MAPS Health Care Ministries Concentration.

Curriculum components which make up the healthcare ministry concentration are as follows:

Courses which make up the healthcare ministry concentration are as follows:

Workshops which make up the healthcare ministry concentration are as follows (2 required):


The Certification Process

Chaplaincy certification requires the MAPS degree (NACC certification) or the M.Div. degree (APC/NACC certification). As part of this degree program (and required for certification by both agencies) four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) are included in the IPS health care ministries concentration. Preparation of materials to sit before the accrediting board of either agency is done as part of the capstone project of the degree. Additionally, students are required to have ecclesial endorsement – an affirmation from their church body that they publicly represent the church. For endorsement of the Catholic chaplain the NACC is instrumental in handling that process. Endorsing bodies for Protestant denominations are listed here.


More Information

If you would like to request a packet of information be sent to you regarding IPS programs please click here

If you have questions about chaplaincy and how IPS can prepare you for certification, please contact Dr. Therese Lysaught at mlysaught@luc.edu  or by phone at 312-915-7485.

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