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Catholic psychotherapy conference to honor Father Benedict Groeschel
By John Gleason
The annual Catholic Psychotherapy Conference will be held March 25-26 in Denver. The event, themed “Implementing the Catholic Faith into Your Practice: Psychotherapy in the Service of the Church” is expected to attract psychologists from across the country, according to Dr. Christina Lynch, staff psychologist for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
“This is only our second conference,” she told the Denver Catholic Register, “but it’s important that we come together in this profession that serves the Church.”
The conference will consist of Mass, social gatherings, workshops and talks on subjects such as “Why Now is the Time for Integrating Psychology with the Faith,” “Treatment of Pornography Addiction at the Service of the Church” and “Curing Perfectionism Through the Happy Marriage of St. Ignatius and Neuroscience.”
Those making appearances at the conference include Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
Due to a scheduling conflict, one presenter who will be unable to attend is Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel, professor of pastoral psychology at St. Joseph’s Seminary and director of the Office for Spiritual Development for the Archdiocese of New York.
According to Lynch, the specialized field of Catholic psychotherapy existed long before Father Groeschel, but he helped reform it.
“The best way to describe it is he brought it to the forefront,” she said. “He nurtured and taught it to students, of which I was one. You could say he rekindled (Catholic psychotherapy) in the psychology world.”
Conference attendees will see a video of Father Groeschel, a founder of his order, receiving the Catholic Psychotherapy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Lynch and CPA President Kathryn Benes in January when the priest was in Denver.
“I can remember years ago, as a young Catholic psychologist trying to set up a Catholic mental health program and talking to you about how difficult it was to be a Catholic psychologist,” Benes said when presenting the award. “You looked at me and said, ‘If you want to be a Catholic psychologist and serve Christ you have to follow in his footsteps—and that means picking up your cross and carrying it.’”
Father Groeschel said he was surprised by the award. He drew laughter when he added that he’s been around so long he can remember a time when Sigmund Freud gave out aspirin.
Growing serious, he said: “In the early days—the early 1960s—there was a suspicion on both sides: (by) Catholics and (in) psychology.
“The picture has changed beautifully,” he continued. “(It’s) much, much better.”
Father Groeschel said Catholic psychologists have positively impacted the psychology profession and he praised all who work in the field.
“I thank you for this recognition,” he said, looking into the camera. “I’m sorry that, unfortunately, I can’t be with you.”
Lynch said a painting of Father Groeschel will be made by local performance artist Devin Montagne and auctioned to the highest bidder during the CPA conference banquet set for 5:30 p.m. March 25 at the Courtyard Marriott, 1475 S. Colorado Blvd. Banquet speaker will be Bishop Sheridan. The banquet is open to the public but reservations and payment of $35 per person must be received by March 20. No admittance at the door. The banquet begins with a social at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner and auction. Mail payment to: CPA Banquet, P.O. Box 101086, Denver, CO 80250. For more information, e-mail Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Catholic Psychotherapy Conference will be held at the John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., and the Courtyard Marriott. Cost of the event is $110 for members, $135 non-members, $40 students and $25 for clergy and religious. More information is available online at www.catholicpsychotherapy.org/conference.