Time magazine recently had an article naming their 100 most influential people of 2012, which made me start thinking about the different professors I have experienced through Loyola’s Pastoral Program and how they have influenced my life.
In the early part of 2009, I attended an information session about Pastoral Counseling at Loyola’s Columbia Campus. Different speakers shared their experience in the Pastoral Counseling Department at Loyola. I will never forget how I felt when Dr. Ciarrocchi, a professor in the Pastoral Department, spoke at the meeting. His very presence embodied the spirit of Loyola. I was so moved by how he described Loyola’s Pastoral Program that I knew in an instant that I had to become a part of whatever he was talking about.
On orientation day for the new Pastoral Counseling students, we were grouped according to the program we were joining. I was confused as to which group I should join because I wasn’t sure if I was going to pursue my masters degree or take the classes I needed in order to be licensed. I received my Masters in Clinical Psychology from Towson University in 1997 and it felt like a lifetime had passed since that time. Dr. Fialkowski, director of M.S. admissions in the Pastoral Counseling Department, had recommended that I look into the Certificate of Advance Study program which would allow me to take the classes missing from my masters that were required for a Maryland license.
I was very emotional on orientation day, scared to take this big step back into the world of graduate school and wondering if I had made the right decision. At the beginning of the session with Dr. Ciarrocchi, he asked us what it was that brought us to this program. When it came time for me to share, I surprised myself by breaking down in tears. It had only been a year since I lost my brother to cancer. Losing my brother propelled me to really reflect on my life and what I wanted to accomplish in my time here. Dr. Ciarrocchi’s loving presence exuded from him while he comforted me and gave me the time and space I needed. Dr. Ciarrocchi fought a long battle with cancer which ended in the fall of 2010. He was the first professor I would have at Loyola and his being has left a forever imprint on my life.