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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Ecumenical Institute hosts Alumni Reunion

Friday, May 9, 2008

Some of the Alumni of the Ecumenical Institute got together at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute recently for the first-ever reunion of the group. Photo submiited.
Enrollment for Clinical Pastoral Education under way

Thirty-five people, including 21 alumni, attended the Ecumenical Institute (EI) reunion on Sunday at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute- the first such reunion in the history of EI.

The reunion was a chance for alums to reconnect with each other and hear updates about EI. Workshops were offered on "Using Touch to Reduce Stress," "Celebrate Recovery" (handling addictions), "How to Pray with Someone," and "Taking Care of Yourself" (handling stress).

Father Gene Sitzmann (left), the founder and original Director of the Ecumenical Institute with his successor, current Director Karen Borchers. Photo contributed
Those local alumni attending included Father Gene Sitzmann, Mike Hittle, Sherry Hittle, Deacon LeRoy Rupp, Father Armand Bertrand, Bev Hurni, and Sister Janice Hoffman. Board members from Cherokee County included Ivan Wiersema, Wayne Rupp and Father Gene Sitzmann.

Father Sitzmann, founder of EI and a program supervisor for 31 years, stated, "It was a great pleasure for me to see some of my former students, friends, and board members. We are glad to provide continuing support and education to our alums, and look forward to this annual reunion opportunity for the more than 400 student graduates of the program who have enrolled and benefited since 1968.

"We are grateful to CMHI for hosting this reunion, and for partnering in providing this opportunity to Northwest Iowa. I encourage both lay and clergy to consider enrolling now in this training to enhance their spiritual caregiving skills."

A broad spectrum of people have graduated from the Ecumenical Institute over the past four decades, including senior pastors, lay ministers, missionaries, seminary students, Stephen Ministers, Be-Frienders, counselors, and "people-helpers" of all varieties, such as nurses, teachers and social workers.

The fall class for CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) will start on Tuesday, September 9, 2008, and will run through February of 2009. The class will meet one Tuesday per week. They will meet in Cherokee and - as a community-based program - the class also typically meets at the ministry locations of the students.

Diversity has proven to enhance the experience; therefore, those selected for enrollment will be a mix of lay people and clergy from different denominations, both men and women. Minority group members are welcome to apply. The cost of the program is $600.

EI Director Karen Borchers says that CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) is an "ideal way to significantly improve both people skills and practical pastoral abilities, in an experiential way that is refreshingly different than traditional formal academic education."

Borchers said, "This is an ideal training opportunity for self-directed learners to enhance their general pastoral skills, such as compassionate listening, assessment, conflict resolution, counseling, and leadership, while continuing to conduct their own active ministry assignment or normal workplace activities," and noted that some colleges will award six credit hours for the course.

Those who would like to learn more are invited to attend an Open House to

get questions answered about EI and enrollment. Two sites have been set up on Tuesday, May 6 . One meeting will be held from 12-1:30 p.m., at the Floyd Valley Hospital Conference Room # 2 in Le Mars, and the second site is the Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Storm Lake, from --7:30 p.m. Coffee and juice will be provided at both sites.

For more information or to apply, please contact Karen Borchers at 712-368-2500 or e-mail at caregivingnow@yahoo.com Application deadline is May 20.

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