Deb Calhoun’s God-Led Path to Chaplaincy

(Deb Calhoun is a distinguished 2012 graduate of the Pastoral Counseling Department’s M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care. She won the John R. Compton Integration Award for her pastoral presence and ability to practice pastoral integration in her work.)
 

Deb Calhoun

JoAnn: How did you find your calling to Loyola?

Deb: While working with a special family – members of my Unitarian Universalist congregation – I learned pursuing pastoral care with greater commitment was my path. My minister recognized it before I did. When I thank her, she denies that she deserves the credit. At first, I could not use the word “calling.” I kept saying “no” until finally I couldn’t any longer. I stumbled upon Loyola’s program. It was the perfect fit for me.

 
JoAnn: What is your lasting impression of Loyola?
 
 

Deb: Spiritual and Pastoral Care with Fr. Kevin Gillespie shaped me as a caregiver. He taught us Care of the Entire Person or Cura personalis and – “where there is a story, there is hope.” Being present to someone listening to their story is the foundation of how I do pastoral care. When you are really attentive to the story, the heart of the matter is revealed. That is where God is! I come to it with the skills that I need and God does the rest.

JoAnn: How is God found in your work?

Deb: When I have the right words for someone that aren’t mine – during a baptism a Scripture verse comes to me that I didn’t even know I knew, or miraculously I run into someone and events just fall into place so that I am able to meet a need.

JoAnn: How do you use your education in your work?

Deb: I draw a lot on Loss and Bereavement and Crisis Intervention. A one-day seminar on suicide prevention came back to me when I dealt with someone who was considering suicide.

JoAnn: Since graduating from Loyola what have you been up to?

Deb: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).  I did one unit each at the Hebrew Home, Sinai Hospital and now Johns Hopkins. I have had different supervisors, groups, and clinical components and learned a variety of skills. Typically, someone does a full-time chaplaincy residency in the same place for all four units.  It is 60 hours a week – physically and emotionally intense. That was not the correct path for me. I have Muscular Dystrophy and I was not sure that I could handle it physically.

JoAnn: In your work in CPE, have you worked with people of various faiths?

Deb: Yes! My current supervisor is a ṣūfī, my supervisor-in-training is Episcopalian, and I had a Jewish Rabbi supervisor. I am comfortable praying with people of all faiths. I am leading the worship service at Johns Hopkins every other Sunday, and it is a surprise to me how much I love it.

JoAnn: Do you like your work?

Deb: Oh yes! I am where I am supposed to be. People ask: how can you do it? It is so sad to see people suffering. I think how lucky am I to be able to do the work that I do!

Deb Calhoun receiving John R. Compton Integration Award from Dr. Tom Rodgerson

Since our meeting, I learned that Deb Calhoun has been accepted to Earlham School of Religion to pursue her MDiv. We wish her well.

3 thoughts on “Deb Calhoun’s God-Led Path to Chaplaincy

  1. Deb,

    It is so exciting to hear about your pastoral journey! Thanks for stirring up great memories of our courses in the Spiritual and Pastoral Care program at Loyola. These experiences do truly live on in our lives today.

    Colleen

  2. What a great post about a truly wonderful person. When I visited Loyola as a prospective student, Deb was a kind and welcoming presence. It was a real treat to work with her in one of my first classes. Best wishes on your journey!

    • Hi Dan,
      Thank you for reading and appreciating my interview. Deb is a great person and I am blessed to call her my friend.

      I have met so m any inspirational people here in my masters in spiritual & pastoral care program at Loyola. I am blessed!
      Blessings,
      JoAnn

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