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Spiritual Care Services

Clinical Pastoral Education - St. Cloud Hospital

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an inter-faith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounter with people in crisis.

Out of an intense involvement with people in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop a new awareness of themselves and the needs of others. From theological reflection on specific situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping people, they develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships.

What do the essential elements of CPE include?

  • The actual practice of ministry to people
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Pastoral supervision
  • A process conception of learning
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individual contract for learning consistent with the objectives of CPE
  • The CPE program must be conducted under the auspices of an Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) certified supervisor or faculty attached to an ACPE accredited CPE center.

What might be included in the individual learning contract?

  • Pastoral Reflection – reflection on one’s self as a person and a pastor in relationship to people in crisis, the supervisor and peer group members, as well as the curriculum and institutional setting.
  • Pastoral Formation – focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.
  • Pastoral Competence – deepening and unfolding of competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences.
  • Pastoral Specialization – focus on the student’s desire to become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of ministry (oncology, urban ministry, parish ministry, hospice ministry, etc.)

What does CPE prepare you to do?

CPE serves as a part of preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching and counseling. A student’s learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological and pastoral insights into pastoral functioning for parish work. The contract also may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.

Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Supervisory CPE to work toward certification as a CPE Supervisor. In Supervisory CPE, students learn the theory and practice of supervising CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of a CPE supervisor. CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families and systems.

Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program. Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program. A number of theological schools which are members of the ACPE have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and Supervisory CPE.

What are the different types of CPE?

ACPE offers Level I and Level II CPE, as well as Supervisory CPE. The levels are taken in sequence, and outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level.

CPE is usually offered in single units (10-12 weeks) or in a year-long program (3-4 consecutive units). Some centers have other part-time options. The center of your choice can explain the options available at their location. St. Cloud Hospital offers a fall unit from September through December, a spring unit from January through May and a summer unit from June through August.

Where can I find more information?

The St. Cloud Hospital CPE Program is administered through the Spiritual Care department and accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. We are located in Woods Lobby of St. Cloud Hospital.

For more information about our program or for an application, call 320-251-2700, ext. 54621. You also may contact the CPE Supervisor at or 320-251-2700, ext. 54621.

For more information about CPE, visit the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. or the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

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