Father Keith Chylinski is a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the director of counseling services at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is also an alumnus of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) at Divine Mercy University.
“It was a blessing to study at IPS because of this sound integration of disciplines,” he says, “which has afforded me a whole new range of personal and pastoral insights.”
In an article featured in The Priest Magazine, Chylinski shares insight into what he learned of how awareness and application of sound psychological principles are vital for a priest’s growth both as a Christian disciple and in his pastoral care for others.
The priesthood is a vocation brimming with great challenges: hearing weekly confessions, giving prenuptial and marriage counseling and spiritual direction, anointing and visiting shut-ins, the sick and the dying with their families.
Priests are also regularly called upon to comfort, instruct and support their flock in times of great distress, confusion, anxiety and need. They are often the first person approached in times of suffering, and many of us today may think that priests are generally well prepared as trained counselors to their congregation and society around them. This is why, today, more priests are being called to pursue a Master’s Degree in Psychology in order to grow as transformational leaders and further enhance their capabilities in their ministerial and pastoral duties.
“I learned in a very profound way that psychology and spirituality are not two unrelated dimensions,” he says. “Rather, they are meant to be unified into a holistic approach to human flourishing. In order for me to be a truly integrated priest, I must be attentive to both of these dimensions in my own life, so that I may honestly and authentically permit the Grace of God to heal, transform, and operate within my own wounded nature.”
(Photo Courtesy of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary)
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