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October 18, 2012
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Grand Junction's new spiritual education center celebrates with opening reception

The new Rocky Mountain Center for Spiritual Caregivers offers training for anyone interested in spiritual growth, or who want to learn skills in dealing with others on the emotional or spiritual realm.The Grand Junction chapter of College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy will celebrate the RMCSC opening with a reception Monday, Oct. 22, in the fellowship hall of First Christian Church, 1326 N. First St., from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The public is invited.Rocky Mountain Center for Spiritual Caregivers is a nonprofit organization that provides specialized training for ministry, institutional and community chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. Hospital chaplains and other professionals or volunteers who work with people who are in trouble, or who are grieving or otherwise suffering, seek the continuing education.Previously, clinical pastoral educators have come to Grand Junction from Denver to teach classes. St. Mary's Hospital Chaplain Mary Ellen Ireland said it's "exciting" to have a local business now offering more accessible training for people on the Western Slope."There's all kinds of crisis intervention (training). The distinction here, is recognizing the spiritual component; the whole person," Ireland said.Ireland is one of eight professional chaplains at St. Mary's. There are another 40 volunteers who provide spiritual or emotional counseling at the hospital. Chaplains also assist individuals and families at hospice centers, jails and Veterans Affairs centers.Chaplains are often called to be with families at hospital emergency rooms, at cancer centers, and in end-of-life situations. At St. Mary's, "we have a lot of trauma from out of town. We're really with those people," Ireland said. "The medical staff is there for the physical care; we're there for emotional, spiritual support."Spiritual distress is a big factor in sickness and injury." The fact that St. Mary's is a Catholic hospital doesn't affect the nature of support, which is non-denominational, Ireland said."Chaplaincy in my mind is unaffiliated with any religion," Ireland said. Clinical pastoral education is important, in part, so that a well-intentioned "do-gooder" does not end up proselytizing or doing damage by saying something inappropriate to a person, Ireland said. "(The training) has a broad perspective; there's no indoctrination," Ireland said. Classes are held in the library of the First Christian Church and consist of either 10-week or 10-month sessions.The Rev. Wendy Jones is the new RMCSC executive director, and Dr. Dee Jaquet is the clinical director.Jones is also minister of congregational life at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Grand Valley, 1425 N. Fifth St."We're excited about offering different workshops for the community," Jones said.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 18, 2012 04:10PM Published Oct 18, 2012 04:07PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.