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Pastoral Services

Training for ministry calls for a wide variety of skills and knowledge. Being a pastor, a minister, a rabbi or priest means being with people in the whole gamut of human experiences and bringing spiritual or religious perspectives to life in those moments. Developing that ability requires pastoral experience, skilled supervision, and a process of working with and learning from other professionals. Penn State Health offers a richness and depth in all these areas through its accredited Association for Clinical Pastoral Education programs.

Trainees will experience:

  • The challenges of chaplaincy and pastoral care: Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a tertiary medical center for central Pennsylvania. Patients treated here reflect the religious and ethnic diversity of the area. Many of the patients are sick with life-threatening and/or chronic diseases, pushing them to the limits of their abilities to cope. Many are away from home and value chaplain support during this challenging time.
  • A supportive educational process in an institution of learning: Clinical Pastoral Education is only one of many professional education programs. Thus, CPE students have opportunity to learn from peers in other professions as each seeks to discover the unique perspective of their own discipline. In the clinical context, learning from practice is a way of life. The atmosphere encourages learning from reflecting on the ministry with patients. The patients are taken seriously as teachers. As learning institutions, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital have a wealth of resources to enrich chaplaincy training. Highly trained, competent Penn State College of Medicine professors also practice at the hospital. The medical school also has a Department of Humanities and interprofessional education programs that contribute to the CPE curriculum.
  • Participating in an interdisciplinary team: The philosophy of the Department of Pastoral Services is clearly stated in the words of Anton Boisen, who is known as the father of CPE: “That the living human documents are the primary sources for any intelligent attempt to understand human nature … That service and understanding go hand in hand. Without true understanding, it is impossible to enter effective service in that which concerns the spiritual life, and only to those who come with a motive of service will the doors open into the sanctuaries of life.”

Related programs

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.