This past year has been devastating as we have become more fully aware of the extent of the sexual abuse by some priests. After hearing the victims' heartbreaking stories, we felt called to action by the Holy Spirit. Michael Ciaccio (Center for Healing founder and director) and I submitted a proposal to Bishop James Johnston sharing our ideas about how The Center for Healing could assist seminary applicants in finding healing and sexual wholeness. Along with the standard psychological evaluations that seminary applicants take, they will now also meet with one of us for further evaluation and assessment.
We are honored and encouraged to be collaborating with Bishop Johnston in working toward healing our church in a proactive way. Bishop Johnston attended the first part of the My House Workshop for Men as an observer this past February. Among the participants were several seminarians and a priest from another diocese. Bishop Johnston understands that addictions and sexual brokenness are the results of deep unresolved wounds. The Center for Healing, with Bishop Johnston's help, wants to offer our seminary applicants the opportunity to work through any unresolved wounds that could be a hindrance to seminary life and living out their priestly vocation.
By offering seminary applicants the therapeutic space to seek healing and freedom, it is our hope that they discover that their own unmet spiritual and emotional desires can lead to unwanted sexual behavior. It is time that we pull our Church's sexual brokenness out of the tomb and into the Light. Jay Stringer, therapist/minister/author says, “Paradoxically, you will find that your wounds and struggles are the very things that have most prepared you for the journey ahead. The ultimate defeat of evil is not the ability to bury your past; it is to allow wisdom to form within your wounds in order to guide you to a land you have yet to find.”
I tell many of my clients who are parents that one of the best gifts they can give their children is working through their unresolved wounds. And in a similar way, one of the gifts our Church can give its lay people is the space to allow our priests and seminarians to work through their unresolved wounds as well. In times such as these we need priests who understand what it is like to know and understand their brokenness so they can better relate and minister to those of us who are aware of our own brokenness.
Chris Ellman, MSW, LCSW, SATP, CSAT Candidate