Loyola University Maryland

Department of Pastoral Counseling

Testimonials

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Stephanie Durnford

Stephanie Durnford

M.S./Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling student

“As someone who does not identify as Christian, I appreciate the program's openness to other religious points of view. This allows for dynamic conversations which don't put God in a box. Exploring spirituality has been part of my personal journey. This program recognizes how important that is for many people. When I first sat in on a pastoral counseling class, the material grabbed me. This degree will enable me to continually develop my strengths and pursue my passions for both counseling and teaching. Right now, I’m working as a graduate assistant and researcher. Next semester, my clinical work will be at Epoch Counseling Center. I really feel I'm where I am supposed to be. That’s how I am answering the call.”

Awa Jangha

Awa JanghaPh.D. student

“My background is in art therapy, and I am intrigued by the connection to spirituality. Through the Loyola Ph.D. program in Pastoral Counseling, I have been working with college students at a nearby university, and I really enjoy it. In my courses, I have found that professors and students all have a ‘sacred attitude’ toward the classes themselves, and spirituality continues to be a very real presence there. My classes and clinical experiences have afforded me with moments when I feel reaffirmed that I am answering a call in my life. Coming back to campus after a break oftentimes feels like coming home and I know that I am walking in my purpose. That’s how I am answering the call.”

Timothy Hanna

M.S./Ph.D.in Pastoral Counseling student

“I started undergraduate studies as a pre-med major. But I soon felt that the traditional approach to medicine was not treating the whole human person in the way I felt called. I knew that whatever I did with my life, it had to involve God. I felt a strong connection between theology and service. Now, I feel a call to integrate the body of science and spirituality as it pertains to human beings. As I complete the Ph.D. program in Pastoral Counseling, I look forward to a career combining counseling, teaching, and research. That’s how I am answering the call.”

Joy McCrady

Joy McCradyM.S. student

Joy McCrady is pursuing a master's degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola University Maryland. After earning a bachelor's in English and creative writing, Joy worked for over 12 years in information technology, managing print products and web properties for government and commercial clients. After her husband was injured in Iraq while serving as a combat medic in the Army, she felt a calling to become a counselor to serve the U.S. military, veterans, and their families who are coping with post-traumatic stress and transitioning to civilian life. She was named a National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Military Scholar in 2014. She currently serves as the Emerging Professionals and Scholars (EPS) representative for the Atlantic Region of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC).

Devlyn McCreight

Devlyn McCreightPh.D. student

“Pastoral Counseling at Loyola is an amazingly diverse and interfaith program. I have classmates who are Buddhist, Muslim, and agnostic--and we are all enriched by working collaboratively with one another.  As a pastoral counselor in private practice, I recognize most clinical issues that emerge in counseling inevitably have a spiritual component as well.  Fortunately, the Pastoral Counseling program provides a thorough, intense, and immersive education in both counseling theory and theological meaning-making.  In my practicum, I was given the opportunity to provide clinical services to homeless men in a residential shelter setting—which has been an incredibly transformative experience for me, both as a clinician and a human being. The greatest gift that Loyola has given to me is to help me see my clients as whole human beings who are far more than the severity of their problems. That’s how I am answering the call.”

Andrea Noel

Andrea NoelM.A. graduate

“I live to learn from experience, trusting that life will take me where I am meant to be. I discerned that the M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care at Loyola offered me the most authentic opportunity to fulfill my destiny. I am learning the importance of not just sharpening the mind, but the significance of refining the heart. The mind is limited while the heart is limitless. My professors, classmates, and coursework teach me how to deepen the authentic power of the human heart. I am on an endless quest to cultivate compassion with wisdom, and love with truth and justice. The head and the heart must establish a natural partnership in order to co-create a beautiful, well-balanced life. Loyola is cultivating my heart. I am answering the call by deepening my spiritual journey and continuing to discover self; both of which are imperative for God’s preparation for my work in this world."

Kristen Parnes

Kristen ParnesM.A. student

“My desire to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual & Pastoral Care at Loyola grew out of my intention to create more meaning in my work and my life. After leaving a twenty-year career in facilities management, I began volunteering at a local hospice where I had the transformative experience of providing comfort to patients and their families during their precious, final days. Presently, my career goal is to continue pursuing the credentials required to serve as a hospice chaplain. Integrating my two careers, my research interest is in optimizing the design of the built environment to support the delivery of meaningful spiritual care."

Dayna Pizzigoni

Ph.D.in Pastoral Counseling student

“I earned my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Loyola with a minor in theology. I am concerned about pervasive issues of women’s well-being, particularly their relationship to their bodies; I even started a women's group as an undergraduate. After graduation, I worked with pregnant, homeless women, helping them care for themselves and their children. I currently work at a Catholic high school in campus ministry and intern as a therapist at a community college. I always wondered how God would put all of this together. Now I know. This program helps me blend my passion for social justice, my faith, my views of beauty, and training in clinical work. The focus is on pastoral care being psychologically healthy and clinical care that takes spirituality into account. I feel called, both to pastoral counseling and to this program.”

Thomas E. Rodgerson, Ph.D.

Tom RodgersonDirector, M.A. Program in Spiritual and Pastoral Care
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling

“Faith and spirituality are at the core of the ‘meaning-making’ in one’s heart, mind, and soul. At Loyola, students are uniquely trained to do counseling and provide pastoral care for people who don’t want to leave their faith at the door. Most students who come recognize the theme that there is something powerful working in their own lives. They want the skills to help people in a pragmatic way, and they are also looking for a career trajectory. In our society, people still turn to those in ministry, especially in times of challenge. Our students are prepared to help. They are answering a call to serve in a way that makes a difference and brings people light and healing.”

Jill L. Snodgrass, Ph.D.

Jill SnodgrassAssistant Professor, Pastoral Counseling

“The M.S. in Pastoral Counseling is a highly unique program in that it trains students to become licensed mental health professionals with the spiritual and theological knowledge to care for clients holistically whether they’re Christian, Jewish, atheist, seeking, etc. Most students engage in a profound discernment process before coming to Loyola. They feel called by something transcendent—their faith/God/higher power—to help others and to meet the world's needs. The answer to the call might be different for each student, but for many it's about justly caring for others in a way that makes the world a better place.”

Joseph Stewart-Sicking, Ed.D.    

Joseph Stewart-SicklingDirector, Ph.D. program
Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling

“The Ph.D. program is unique in that it combines serious research with pastoral reflection and high-quality clinical practice. There is strength in our diversity, including an interdisciplinary faculty. Unlike programs at other universities, the approach is nonsectarian. Students study world religions, the workings of the brain, and the nature of suffering. It’s fun when ancient wisdom comes into contact with counseling, education, social science, and psychological science. For our students, something ‘clicks’ and they answer a call for some higher purpose and the desire to be part of a community. For me personally, I am called to explore a broader, humanistic approach toward meaning. That’s how I am answering the call.”

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Making Meaning: A peek into the lives of current pastoral counseling students