What is pastoral Counseling? My first thought when I hear those words is an office inside the parish of my Catholic Church. Even though I have not experienced pastoral counseling in that setting, the stories of other parishioners begin to flood my memory. The wife seeking answers about the lack of communication in her marriage after thirty years, or the friend who just heard that it was best if she aborted the baby because there was something wrong with the “fetus.” The possibilities of this human encounter are endless and it provides the pastoral counselor the opportunity to be a vessel of healing for the Lord.
Pastoral counseling had been a part of my life since I was a child, and was integral to forming my identity and understanding of a catholic sense of community. I considered myself to have a unique upbringing; as an only child, over the years I witnessed my parents form a charismatic Filipino community called Bukas Loob Sa Diyos (Open Your Hearts to God) after having newly immigrated to Canada.
We live in a culture that praises individualism and self-sufficiency. While it is necessary to learn and discover one’s individual self, a superficial focus on identity can lead to extreme selfishness and egotism.