As my academic journey as a candidate for the Master of Arts Degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care at Loyola nears its end, I can’t help but reflect on the moment that led me to pursue an advanced degree program at this institution.
Employed as a Workforce Development Specialist at a local government agency, I realized, once again, the need to earn an advanced degree in order to remain competitive in the labor market. Inasmuch as I had spent at least 20 years of my professional life serving as a “career counselor in the Workforce Development Industry” I felt the time was right for me to pursue a counseling degree program. As a result, I began looking into a variety of masters’ degree programs in order to obtain my professional goals.
After researching numerous ‘counseling programs’ online, the Pastoral Counseling Degree program at Loyola University Maryland captured my attention. I contacted and met with Ms. Brenda Helsing (firstname.lastname@example.org) and after attending my initial meeting, I felt right at home – that obtaining a Loyola Education would be beneficial and provide the tools needed to continue serving as a Workforce Development Counselor supporting dislocated workers and others in obtaining their next professional adventure in a spirit of service.
Instead of pursuing a Pastoral Counseling Degree, I entered the Spiritual and Pastoral Care program at Loyola (www.loyola.edu/pastoralcounseling/academics/care.html) and followed the Chaplaincy Tract. During the course of my studies, I gained both the theological and theoretical tools that enables me to be of service “ministering” to those who suffer losses – whether those losses be in employment, health, or a loved-one; to assist individuals in crisis situations, and empathetic listening skills to support people who wish to resolve their spiritual and religious questions, concerns, or challenges. As my graduate student tenure comes to a close, I can say that the Spiritual and Pastoral Care program has heightened my awareness of spiritual and pastoral questions and concerns, helped me grow as a person and provided me with the technical support system to serve my sisters and brothers – regardless of their Religious Traditions – grapple with their questions and concerns to form a new and/or elevated spiritual identity.