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A New Era for Catholic Psychologists
U. S. A. | APOSTOLATE | ON THE MEDIA
With Fr. Sikorsky’s help, IPS graduates effect cultural change.

Fr Charles Sikorsky, LC, presents Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Dr. F. Russell Hittinger in 2009.
Fr Charles Sikorsky, LC, presents Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Dr. F. Russell Hittinger in 2009.

August 24, 2009. Arlington, VA. The following article about Fr Charles Sikorsky, LC, and his work as President of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences was published in the August 19 issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald.

Reprinted with permission. 

A New Era for Catholic Psychologists
With Fr. Sikorsky’s help, IPS graduates effect cultural change.

By Lisa Socarras

“Priests don’t know where to send their parishioners who need counseling because they don’t want them to be given the wrong advice,” said Father Charles Sikorsky, president of the Institute for Psychological Studies (IPS), a Catholic graduate school of psychology in Arlington.

“We are forming a whole new generation of Catholic psychologists who understand the dignity of the human person and moral values,” he added.

Father Sikorsky spent nine years studying in Rome, the heart of the Church, prior to coming to IPS in 2007. His time there deepened his faith and broadened his perspective on the needs of the universal Church.

Following a four-year intermission to serve as a brother in formation in Santiago, Chile, he was ordained to the priesthood with a class of 44 fellow Legionaries from the Regina Apostolorum in 2002. He went on to earn a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University before his return to America.

Catholic Rome enlightened him forever as he witnessed the grace-filled era of Pope John Paul II, the pope’s death and funeral, and the conclave and election of Pope Benedict XVI.

“To be there during the procession of his body and to witness the impact on people was amazing,” Father Sikorsky said. The event drew more than 4 million mourners and is considered the largest gathering of Christianity in history.

“We saw many conversions and heard many confessions as people were affected,” he said.
Father Sikorsky knew this was his mission: to help lay people attain holiness and salvation — a calling he had felt definitively as a 27-year-old private practice lawyer during a vocations retreat in 1992.

“I thought I could do more,” said the Baltimore native. His desire to give to others is part of his vocation that grew from his commitment to the pro-life cause and motivated him to become more active in the Church.

“I saw the cultural battle lines and I couldn’t sit back anymore,” he said. His early involvement in the pro-life movement began in college at Johns Hopkins University and during law school at the University of Maryland. Always ready to serve where needed, Father Sikorsky said that he was inspired by the courageous efforts of the Catholics with whom he volunteered.

“Contagious Catholics rubbed off on me,” he said. That influence, along with frequent reception of the sacraments, set him along the path that would later lead to the priesthood.

“What made the difference was the sacramental life,” he said. His increased attendance at daily Mass led “little by little” to an increase in his faith and a desire to serve others and the Church. “Sacraments, Mary and the rosary all give you the spiritual strength that you need,” he said.

While attending a pro-life conference in 1992, he met two priests who were Legionaries of Christ and was drawn to their mission and work in their apostolate for the laity. He knew that this was his life’s calling at a retreat where it “clicked” and he knew where he was headed — the seminary.
He attended two years of seminary in Connecticut before continuing his studies in Rome. Following ordination and his canon law degree, he was selected to head IPS.

Founded in 1999 under the leadership of Gladys Sweeney, IPS was created by a group of Catholic psychologists who saw the importance of integrating theology, philosophy and psychology.

With its mission of developing and teaching Catholic approaches to psychology as part of its integrated studies, IPS has earned international respect in the Church and throughout the world as a leader for its advanced degree programs. Renowned professors, such as psychologist, author and EWTN lecturer, Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel, teach at IPS. Seven priests, including Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, serve on the board of directors.

We offer the only curriculum that integrates philosophy and theology throughout the whole program,” Father Sikorsky said. The institute’s mission is to transform lives with faith and psychology, both general and clinical. “We are a unique program that is completely consistent with the Catholic vision of the person. This is why we exist.”

Pope John Paul II cited this need for the Church in his 1987 address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, said Father Sikorsky.

“In his speech to the marriage tribunal, John Paul II spoke of the need to harmonize the advances of modern psychology with the Christian vision of the person,” Father Sikorsky said. He believes there are not enough trained professionals in psychology who understand and uphold Church teaching and values. The IPS Clinic in Arlington also offers its services to the community at non-profit rates.

“Students see this as a vocation,” Father Sikorsky said. As its reputation has grown, so has enrollment. This fall, the institute will enroll 75 students, in contrast to the 17 students in 1999. Father Sikorsky said that he hopes the expansion will continue to meet the ever growing need for God, healing and forgiveness.

“The Church is in such need for psychologists to work hand in hand with pastors,” he said, citing the issues priests face — from the breakdown of the family, to sexual dysfunction and the consequences of “hook-up culture.” IPS psychologists also serve the Church through the formation of values and the discernment of vocations.

“This,” he said, “is one of the most important apostolates in the country.”

For more info about the Institute for Psychological Sciences or the IPS Clinic, go to ipsciences.edu.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2009-08-23


 
 

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