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