The Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago has evolved over its nearly sixty year life. Dr. William (Bill) Schmidt has accompanied the Institute for the better part of the second half of its existence. During his tenure with IPS, he has seen changes in university structures including a building out of the Institute of Pastoral Studies from a summer program to the robust offerings of degree programs it has today. His contribution to those offerings emerged as a contributor to the spirituality program during his time as the Graduate Program Director. The lens through which Dr. Schmidt has experienced the IPS is Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy. He talked about the purpose of IPS as pastoral. He was open about the ambiguity of the term pastoral in a post-modern world. His response to how a pastoral organization can persist in an ever changing world, was that the IPS is engaged in Jesuit-driven pastoral accompaniment. The pastoral term encompasses the journey and the complications that arise from it.
We delved into his areas of expertise discussing the arc of the profession of pastoral care and counseling from a partnership with chaplaincy in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE ) to a stand alone discipline and back to being a branch of the ACPE. The focus of pastoral care and counseling falls under the depth psychology branch of psychotherapy. Dr. Schmidt referred to the concept of spiritually integrated counseling as a way of summarizing the distinguishing characteristic of pastoral counseling from other forms of counseling.
We talked about meaning making within the context of spiritual seeking. The IPS has a broad range of programs that pulls from all areas of interest, but a commonality that has been observed among the IPS student body is a sense of spiritual seeking. Dr. Schmidt observed that spiritual seeking is not only institutionally driven. The prescriptive body of knowledge that an institution, such as a spiritual community, offers does not usually match the spiritual journey of the seeker. The field of pastoral counseling is tasked with preaching the world to the church and the opening the church to the world. The spiritual seeker is seeking spiritual nourishment and as a discipline, pastoral counseling, is poised to experience the raw existential human experience of emerging realities. Dr. Schmidt describes the field as having one foot in the ever changing dynamism of human experience and one foot in the faith tradition. When pressed about the world of today with the many faith traditions and spiritual experiences that seekers are bringing to graduate school Dr. Schmidt referred to his working definition of pastoral care and counseling which is bringing the inner meaning of the gospel to persons at their point of need. The inner meaning of the gospel, Dr. Schmidt lifted up as the core of the message of pastoral counseling, which is surrounded by the human values, love, hope, and compassion. Dr. Schmidt has recently co-authored a book entitled: Spiritual Formation in Local Faith Communities: A Prompt Card Approach: which highlights his research interests in Psychology, Theology and Spirituality. His specific current focus addresses the theme of contemporary Pilgrimage as a resource for personal growth, transformation, and healing. The IPS is honored to have Dr. Schmidt among our faculty and we celebrate with him his 30 year milestone.