A journey of faith and fulfillment. When I read those words on the Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling website, I felt the connection. I have come to see my life as journey, one that needs discernment, one that believes in destiny. I was facing yet another major life change when I felt the call to enter the Pastoral Counseling program.
My first discernment of journey came early in life. I felt called to the monastic life when still in my teens. I applied and got accepted into a monastery. Following that call required privations and sacrifices, leaving family and friends behind as I forged a new family, community and life. I found the call challenging but remained in it for many years. Finally, circumstances made it clear I needed a change. Though it proved the most difficult decision in my life, I accepted the call to move on and left the monastery.
But moving on can mean so many things. I found it hard to identify with my peers when I went on to college. I felt out of place with my colleagues when I got my first job. I watched life progress and felt as though I were standing and watching it through a window, forever wondering where I fit in. Perhaps I had somehow gotten lost on my journey, perhaps I had missed my turn or wandered into areas I was not meant to be.
Then I found the ad in Commonweal describing the Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola. It mentioned calling, journey, and spirituality. I felt the attraction, I felt it to be the fit I longed for.
When I came for my interview, I knew my first test would be getting accepted into the program. Next, I would have to complete the requirements. But I was no stranger to sacrifice and challenge, to discernment and prayer.
Best of all, I have found classmates in this program who have had similar experiences, whose journeys have not been straight and narrow, but rather winding along a path of uniqueness. I am thrust into a group that is no stranger to suffering, sacrifice, and challenge. Here, I no longer look out the window and wonder about the rest. I sit at table and discuss, share, and experience.
I find strength in learning of the journeys of others. I find inspiration, comfort, and encouragement at the commitment others are making to be in this program, seeking a degree in Pastoral Counseling. I find that many, like me, are changing careers, forging a new path, accepting the daunting challenge of becoming a Pastoral Counselor.