Faith in Health Care

The sponsoring congregations of CHRISTUS Health faced many struggles in their work to provide accessible, compassionate health care to those in need over the last 150 years. But they were unfazed, and the guiding belief in the CHRISTUS mission, “To extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” continues to flow through everything the health system does. The influence of the CHRISTUS legacy permeates every department.

None more so than those who are part of Clinical Pastoral Education. Known as CPE, this department is now raising the bar and taking a new approach to training hospital and hospice chaplains and spiritual care providers.   

“The goal, in the coming months, is to have the majority of CHRISTUS Health chaplains and spiritual care providers certified by a professional organization, demonstrating competence in required areas of spiritual care delivery. Completion of 2-4 units of CPE is one of the requirements necessary for application for chaplaincy certification,” explained Father Lawrence Chellaian, who oversees all CHRISTUS’ Spiritual Care ministries. 

Stronger Together

In 2017, the three individually accredited CPE programs in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Tyler, Texas came together to form a System CPE program (CHRISTUS Health) with three component sites. The intent of forming as a System CPE program was to share the rich educational and human resources within CHRISTUS and form common policies.

“We also wanted a curriculum that would ensure that students formed in a CHRISTUS facility would carry forth our mission and values, and provide CPE opportunities to enhance the professionalism and pastoral effectiveness of those ministering within our own facilities,” explained Mary Davis, Group Director, CHRISTUS Health Clinical Pastoral Education

As the System CPE program concept took shape, a vision statement was used to focus on supporting the education and professional development of CHRISTUS Associates.

CPE Vision:

The CHRISTUS Health CPE program exists to provide pastoral care formation and development of required competencies for spiritual caregivers to further extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

The Expansion

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio is now sponsoring an educational placement in Monterrey and Nuevo Leon, Mexico through CHRISTUS Muguerza. This special CPE unit began in October 2019 with seven students and was led by a bilingual ACPE Certified Educator, Rev. Carlos Sanchez. Spiritual Care Associates from both CHRISTUS Muguerza (Mexico) and Red de Salud UC CHRISTUS (Chile) are participating in the first training unit.


Back Row, left to right: Francisco De La Peńa Guzman, Gabriela Martínez, Elizabeth Correa, Mary Davis (ACPE Certified Educator for CHRISTUS Health), Ana Karen Vásquez, Carlos Sanchez (Contract ACPE Certified Educator for Muguerza CPE Unit), Pedro Bustos. Front Row, left to right: Cristina Hincapie (Pastoral Care Manager, CHRISTUS Muguerza), Celina Munguía, Rocío Orozco, Silvia Canto (Director of Mission, Organizational Ethics, and Pastoral Care, CHRISTUS Muguerza), George Avila (Vice President of Mission Integration, CHRISTUS Health).

“This time the goal is to offer the same opportunities within our Latin American ministries as CHRISTUS is attempting to offer in the U.S. ministries – ongoing pastoral education toward eventual professional recognition of CHRISTUS Health Associates’/CHRISTUS Muguerza Colaboradores’ pastoral roles,” explained George Avila, CHRISTUS VP of Mission Integration.

The launching of this program is also significant because all three of CHRISTUS Health’s Latin American ministries (Mexico, Chile, and Colombia) have agreed to this model.  This program will serve all three countries as opposed to establishing individual programs.

“This helps CHRISTUS with our ongoing goal of becoming One CHRISTUS. This group also worked over the past year in establishing Spiritual Care Standards for Latin America.  Although they have existed for the U.S. ministries for a couple of years, the group worked on editing and adding elements to the standards that would reflect local structural and cultural realities,” said Avila.

This may have different nuances in varied countries. Nonetheless, CHRISTUS is committed to offering similar opportunities to the extent that they can provide similar resources.

“While we intend to provide an opportunity for our Associates/Colaboradores, the recipients who benefit most from pastoral education programming and spiritual care competence are the patients, family members, fellow Associates/Colaboradores, and our physicians,” said Davis.

“For all of us in CHRISTUS Health, it comes back to [the founding calling of CHRISTUS], “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of the sick and infirm of every kind” who seek relief at our hands. The more effective we can be to provide relief for Christ Incarnate in those we serve, we are compelled to do so.”




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