Good Book on Chaplaincy


Hello All,

After a long period of prayer and discernment I have begun my first steps towards becoming a certified lay ecclesial health care minister, or hospital chaplain, as the position is more popularly known.

I have begun taking Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) classes with a local catholic hospital. Unfortunately all of the members of my class, including the instructor, are Protestant ministers, including one ex-catholic women who’s seeking ordination in the Lutheran church!

Despite this, they all seem agreeable enough, but I have a feeling that I’ll have to be on guard against some questionable theology. I wonder if anyone here can offer a recommendation on a good book that looks at hospital chaplaincy from an explicitly Catholic point of view? Specifically I need something that deals with care for the dying or end of life care since I’ll be volunteering at a Hospice. We have to do a presentation on a book at the end of our unit in six months and I’d like to give my classmates some understanding of what our Church and Tradition has to offer about this field.

Also, if there are any board certified chaplains on here, I’d love any pointers you could give about the pitfalls of applying for NACC certification!

Thanks in advance!


I did CPE about 6 months ago as part of my seminary formation. My group included one female Anglican priest and two Anglican theology students - one male one female. My CPE supervisor was a Methodist minister. I did wonder at the start whether things might get a bit awkward with me being the only Catholic in the room but as it turned out it wasn’t a problem at all. On the whole, questions of dogma (as opposed to theology) didn’t really come up and even if they had it’s not like the others would have shared a common viewpoint!

I’m afraid I can’t really recommend any books that look at hospital chaplaincy (as opposed to CPE) from a Catholic perspective but the book we used was called Personhood and Presence by ewan Kelly which wasn’t too bad. What I would also say is that, while it obviously involves some degree of theology CPE is more about practical theology - e.g. any or some of the following:
*]the image of God influencing a client’s thinking and responses
*]the image of God influencing my thinking and responses to a client
*]Scriptures and other sources relate to a pivotal question I have as a result of this encounter
*]what I am learning about God, about society, about being church, about ministry, about myself

Personally, I found doing CPE to be incredibly fulfilling and really worthwhile. Really, its about learning more about and understanding yourself as much as it is about learning how to understand others. What’s also important is having a good relationship with your supervisory chaplain at the hospital where you’ll be doing your practical work since you can learn a lot from them. Feel free to PM me if you’d like to talk more about it.


*The Gift of Peace:Personal Reflections *by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Ethical Principle in Catholic Health Care from the National Catholic Bioethics Center

An important aspect of CPE is respecting the spirituality of every person, including yours.

I had 4 units and then got certified with the National Assoiation of Catholic Chaplains back in about 1997. GO FOR IT. It is worth it. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

These days I am doing less chaplaincy and more Mission Integration which is a blossoming discipline in its own right, at least in Catholic hospitals.:thumbsup::thumbsup:


Thanks for the responses. I really appreciate the guidance. Its reassuring to hear about other Catholics who have gone though this process. I’m feeling a little alone at the moment, but that could be as much a symptom of starting such an involved process as it is about any theological anxieties.

Thanks especially to Michael Mayo, I will be picking up both of those books ASAP.

Much appreciated!


Also try not to be defensive. When I first started with verbatims a supervisor asked me, 'What were you thinking when you said that?" I took it as if I was being challenged and got defensive. By the end of the year I realized it was a good question regardless of what I might have said.

Job are waiting for you. I need a certified chaplain now. And I want a Catholic though I can’t put that in the wanted ad.


Having your verbatims picked apart and your every action and sentence scrutinised is far from fun but oh so worth it in the end!


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