Father Nicholas Reid is back in training.
Fr. Reid, a priest of the Jefferson City diocese who is serving as a U.S. Air Force chaplain in Alaska, has been assigned to a one-year Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program of study at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), located near Fort Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
“Think ‘hospital chaplaincy,’” he said of the training.
Fr. Reid has served for the past several years as a chaplain at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.
He and five classmates in the CPE program will study and minister together.
He pointed to the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education’s (ACPE) description of Clinical Pastoral Education as interfaith professional education for ministry.
It brings theological students and ministers of all faith persuasions — pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others — into supervised encounter with individuals who are in crisis.
“Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister,” the ACPE website states.
Participants also gain a new understanding of ministry from theological reflection on specific human situations.
“Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships,” according to the website.
Fr. Reid noted that many seminarians and priests undertake a shorter version of this program over the summer at some point in their training.
He was enrolled in a similar program over two semesters as a seminarian at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
His new training ground is impressive.
Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) is the U.S. Army’s premier medical institution.
It is a 425-bed Academic Medical Center and is the U.S. Defense Department’s largest facility and only Level 1 Trauma Center.
“It is a hospital setting that is also dealing with COVID-19 patients,” Fr. Reid noted.
Although the specifics are subject to change from day-to-day, he has been told that he will be carrying-out patient visitation over the phone instead of face-to-face.
It will make the experience all the more memorable.
“This period of pandemic has asked us to do many things differently in our daily routines and especially with the sacraments,” Fr. Reid noted.
Even his 12-day drive, undertaken with proper social distancing, has been an adventure.
“Alaska has been an amazing backdrop for an assignment,” he posted on Facebook, “and I’m stoked about going to the tiny state of Texas for the next go!”
“It is all an adventure and the Lord is in charge,” he told The Catholic Missourian. “All will be well.”