Have you experienced awkward or painful moments when visiting an ill friend in the hospital or caring for someone nearing the end of life? A new podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio, “The “Wounded Healer,” can help you reflect on suffering, visitation of the sick, and the healing process from an Orthodox Christian perspective.
The series was co-created in September 2016 by Fr. Adrian Budica and Sarah Byrne-Martelli, two hospital chaplains who wanted to share their personal experiences in caring for others. Father Adrian is the Director of Field Education and Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at St. Vladimir’s Seminary as well as CPE Supervisor and Coordinator of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, CT; Chaplain Sarah is Staff Chaplain at Mass General Hospital and at Beacon Hospice, Beverly, MA, and a Board Certified Chaplain (Association of Professional Chaplains) since 2004. She also serves on the national certification committee for chaplains. Currently, she is a Doctor of Ministry student at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.
Thus far, the pair have created seven episodes of their podcast; three episodes have been published and are titled, “Introduction,” “Loss of Control and Powerlessness,” and “Forgiveness.” Their podcasts not only impart to listeners their experiences in visiting those wounded in body and soul, but also invite listeners to “visit” their own wounds, whether physical or spiritual.
“When we visit and care for others,” explain Fr. Adrian and Chaplain Sarah on their podcast web page, “our Lord Jesus is present simultaneously as the One suffering, the One visiting, and the One healing. Through His Cross, He alone has the power to heal us and to transform our powerless wounds into powerful ministry tools.”
Father Adrian also commented that the podcasts in some measure are an outgrowth of his work with St. Vladimir’s seminarians who are pursuing chaplaincy work after completing their CPE requirement. Since 2012, every seminarian in the Master Divinity program at the Seminary has been required to complete one Unit of CPE, which demands a minimum of 300 hours of hospital visitation and a minimum of 100 hours of clinical supervision (group and individual) with a certified ACPE Supervisor. These hours include verbatim case studies, group process (IPR), reflection and theology papers, research, and didactics from physicians, nurses, social workers and psychologists, among other requirements.
“I have witnessed the value of CPE training in my own ministry and in the ministry of our students,” Fr. Adrian noted, “and I wanted to share more about the blessed ministry of chaplains (in general) and about the benefits of CPE (in particular) with the broader Church, especially from an Orthodox Christian standpoint; thus, my collaboration with Chaplain Sarah sprouted.
“She has been board certified as a chaplain for more than 12 years,” he added, “and, she also brings diverse perspectives to show a more complete image of Orthodox chaplaincy, which includes lay ministry and hospice care.”
Thus far, more than 60 SVOTS seminarians and alumni have completed one unit of CPE; more than 15 of those have continued into full-time CPE Residencies after graduating, in prestigious programs from Washington State to Colorado to MSKCC and Mount Sinai Health in NYC. Additionally, six SVOTS alumni are now Board Certified Chaplains or in process, and are working as full-time or part time chaplains. Board Certified Chaplaincy requires a minimum of 4 Units of CPE, plus 2,000 hours of experience after CPE, plus preparing documents and meeting with a certification committee to demonstrate 29 competencies.
“In 2016 alone, 13 seminarians completed their CPE units,” said Fr. Adrian. “Their supervised hospital experience added up to an impressive 5,200 hours of training and supervised clinical ministry, which served more than 10,000 patients in hospitals and nursing homes—not to mention ministry offered in their own parishes and faith communities.
“My students are spreading the word about the value of Clinical Pastoral Education and chaplaincy, and so are we, through our podcast series,” Fr. Adrian concluded. “We plan to interview some of them in our podcast series, which will allow them to share some of their rich experiences in CPE.”