ChI was nothing less than transformational in my personal and professional growth. The homework and classwork are carefully structured to create sacred space for learning and healing. Many areas of spiritual and emotional growth that were not fully accessible to me, became available to work with in ChI. Far beyond the solid education in interfaith practice, ChI created conditions for me to blossom as a spiritual care provider. I was able to discover so much more of my authentic self, and learn to become a channel of healing and service, through my education and community at ChI! I am now the director of Raising Sparks Interfaith mInistry, a street ministry in San Francisco, and am providing spiritual care and support for homeless and formerly homeless people in the Tenderloin and throughout the city. This non profit began as my independent internship at seminary. Thank you ChI!
Unlike most who come to ChI, I was coming from a 40+ year career in technology, looking to make a total career change. The ChI program is so much more than just an education in theology. It embraces social justice, eco ministry, deep self-reflection, music, the visual arts as well as the development of interpersonal skills and the awareness of the spiritual impacts of emotional trauma. It is the role of chaplains to bear compassionate witness to those who are spiritually suffering. It is not work to undertake casually and ChI offers the deep work to enable an old engineer like myself to be a spiritual listener so that others may begin healing.
The people I met at CHI to learn from and study with will always be precious friends. The opportunity to delve deeply into interfaith understanding and all of the beauty and challenges that brought was a treasure that I don’t think is found in many other places. I feel I have been blessed and made ready to serve my spiritual community at a whole new level of awareness, compassion, empathy and wisdom – all thanks to the excellent training and studies and the amazing teachers and staff that support us at CHI. In my Sufi community, we have moved into a new stage of passionate social and earth justice work that I have been honored to facilitate along with other beloveds. I am working with several people to explore Sufism as a spiritual practice, as well as with several Spiritual Companions. I use the skills and learning I gained from CHI every day in this work.
I have had the enormous blessing of serving as adjunct faculty in the Interfaith Spiritual Direction training program, as well as supervising a number of students. The students always bring a rich trove of questions, yearnings and challenges to the learning environment. I especially appreciate their passion for curating a ministry and practice as spiritual companions for seekers of many faiths, races, genders, abilities, sexualities, ages, and cultures.
I have said it many times: If an entity like The Chaplaincy Institute did not exist, I would not have been able to have followed my path. I thought I was heading toward becoming a nurse, when I heard the call to ministry and chaplaincy instead. Having grown up as a conservative Catholic, I did not think that ministry or chaplaincy would have been possible for a gay individual such as myself. I was blessed to be directed to ChI, and once I arrived, I felt at home, and continue to consider ChI my spiritual home. ChI taught me to appreciate and better understand the many sacred paths and ways of interacting with the Divine, ourselves and other humans being, and the world around us. Most importantly ChI provided me a safe space to explore my own relationship to spirit and my own spirituality. Now that I am a full-time working hospice chaplain (and loving it!), I am nothing but grateful to ChI for allowing me to live the life Spirit has called me to lead.
Going through ChI, and having ChI move through me, is one of the top 5 most important chapters of my life. It pulled me out of self-conscious introversion and pumped up my confidence juices more than I thought possible. Enough to allow me to walk into a hospital room as a Chaplain and strike up a conversation with anyone interested. Enough to facilitate spiritual exploration with hospice patients, bearing witness to their beauty and walking with them towards the gates of death. Theologically, ChI packed quite the punch. The academic load was almost never dry and boring, but always flavored with enough in-classroom emotional counterforce to really bring home the deep-seated spiritual wisdom contained within the traditions we studied. The bonds forged with my fellow seminarians remains intact to this day. We’re all always sitting in that circle, facing and supporting one another. The relationships are part of ChI’s gift of experimental discernment, which is embodied, confrontational, playful and accessible.
I was very pleased with the energy and courtesy with which I was dealt with.
The interfaith character of this program appealed to me. I learned a lot in the classes and the readings. The deep sharing by all participants was transformational for many. The supervision during the internship was very helpful.
The Chaplaincy Institute does the rare job of balancing the transpersonal lessons of the spiritual life with attention to the inward and particular development of each student’s soul-path. I came away deepened in my own unique gifts, while also heightened in my appreciation for the unity encompassing all religious traditions. This dual emphasis on “each” within the “whole” is real spiritual preparation for the new world we are building. I am currently co-facilitating the Strolls for Well-Being Program at Bloedel Reserve, outside of Seattle. Post-COVID I will pursue an SD practice that uses Nature connection to help people find meaning and belonging in a re-enchanted world.
Thank you, ChI. Thank you, family. Thank you, God. Namaste. Since my ordination, I published eight books on the integration of psychology, spirituality, mysticism and activism in the second half of life – a rich harvest from a beautiful and inspiring experience. As a mystic, I now live increasingly in the consciousness described in my sermon.