Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

Overview and Purpose

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a form of adult education in which chaplain residents and interns learn to grow in their personal, pastoral, and professional identities so as to minister with integrity and compassion to people in need. Chaplain residents and interns do their clinical pastoral work under supervision and mentoring at their clinical sites in hospitals, nursing and rehabilitation centers, and hospice. In these different clinical sites they use the insights and principles of psychology, religion, spirituality, social science, and theology in working with individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve wholeness and health. Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, non-ordained men and women and other professional persons) into supervised encounters with those who find themselves in circumstances where spiritual and emotional support can be a source of healing and peace. Students of the Presence Health CPE program visit patients, residents, families, and staff in designated clinical areas under the supervision of a certified CPE Supervisor.

Presence Health offers a unique mentorship component, which helps students deepen their pastoral practice and understanding of the needs of those they serve through regular one-on-one mentoring by an experienced Presence Health chaplain at the student’s clinical site.

Presence Health’s CPE residency program provides adult learning opportunities in an interactive group environment and in clinical settings that include rotations in the metropolitan Chicago area at two of the five Presence Health hospitals and one of its five senior services facilities or in an in-house hospice setting. Presence Health summer CPE interns do their supervised clinical work at one of the five acute care hospitals in metro Chicago. Presence Mercy Medical Center Extended Unit chaplain interns do their supervised clinical work at Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, IL or Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin, IL. (Information about Presence Health hospitals and senior services is available at

Presence Health’s CPE program fully prepares students to apply for certification. The program is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).


Application and Selection Process

Four individuals are accepted on a competitive basis each year to the Clinical Pastoral Education residency program. Classes begin in late August and continue until the end of the first week of the following May.

Six individuals are accepted on a competitive basis each year to the Clinical Pastoral Education intensive summer internship program. Classes begin in late May and conclude in early August.

Step 1: Application Process

Submit your completed Application for Clinical Pastoral Education according to requirements identified on the application form.

Send by Internet to:

Or by USPS mail to:

CPE Director
Clinical Pastoral Education
1127 N. Oakley Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Tel. 312-770-3326
Fax 312-770-3352

Step 2: Selection Process

There is no annual fixed application deadline. Submitted application materials are reviewed by the Admission Committee as they are received. For summer CPE internship the time bracket is usually from early fall to late spring (November to April). Applications for the 9-month residency program are usually reviewed from early winter to mid-spring (January to April). If selected, applicants are invited to a personal interview. This is required for the residency program and for local area applicants to the 11-week intensive (internship) program. Travel to the onsite interview is at the applicant’s expense.

Out-of-state applicants for the internship program may have their personal intake interview done in their locale by a certified CPE supervisor; a printout of this interview shall then be included in their application packet. Upon recommendation of the Admission Committee, if an out-of-state applicant shows aptitude for the Presence Health CPE internship program, s/he will be called by phone for a Skype conference call with Presence Health interviewers.

Step 3: Appointment Process

The applicant will be notified in writing of acceptance or denial within four weeks of the interview. If accepted, the applicant must respond in writing within one week to the Presence Health CPE program regarding the acceptance offer.


Application Requirements

  • A completed CPE application using either one of the following:
  • Requirements for single CPE unit (chaplain interns): a completed CPE application; sufficient background in theology, ministry, spirituality, or other related fields; at least a bachelor’s degree preferred; admission interview. If the applicant is from out-of-state, s/he may submit a copy of an interview conducted by a local ACPE/NACC supervisor.
  • Requirements for CPE residency program (chaplain residents): a completed CPE application, at least one unit of CPE completed successfully at time of application from which final evaluations of both student and supervisor are submitted; completion (or in process) of a master’s degree in theology, divinity, religious studies, pastoral ministry, or spirituality. (These requirements may be adaptable per applicant.) An admission interview is required.
  • All applicants must have clearly defined educational objectives for the CPE experience.

English Fluency

Fluency in written and spoken English is essential for success in the program and to ensure patient safety. Applicants must demonstrate objective competency through the admission interview and may be required to submit results from a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination or equivalent exam.


Additional Admission Requirements

Applicants offered admission to the Presence Health CPE program must also comply with Presence Health’s policies and procedures regarding health testing before beginning the program. This includes being required to submit to the following, administered by the Presence Health Employee Health Department and Presence Health Human Resources:

  • Blood titer tests for measles, German measles, mumps and chickenpox
  • TB skin test
  • Background check
  • Drug screen
  • Fingerprinting
  • “Fit test.”

Specific questions about these requirements may be directed to the Director of the CPE program. If applicants have had the above-mentioned tests within the previous year they may submit documentation of the tests to the Employee Health Manager.

Failure to comply or to provide requested documentation is grounds for Presence Health rescinding the admission offer or terminating admission.

Equal Opportunity

Presence Health upholds all federal and state laws that preclude discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or veteran’s status.

Technical Standards

Presence Health accepts interns and residents who are highly qualified for its programs. To be considered for admittance the candidate should exhibit strong qualifications for the health profession s/he wishes to pursue. Applicants to the CPE program must possess the following general qualities:

  • Emotional stability and affective maturity
  • Physical and mental stamina
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Sound judgment
  • Empathy for others
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work with peers (in group sharing of clinical work)
  • Ability to learn and function in a variety of settings


Types of Programs

  • The residency program is a nine-month program consisting of 36 weeks offered in three units of 11 weeks each, with a one-week classroom break in between the units. A classroom break also occurs during the Christmas holidays. Four residents are selected each year. The program requires residents to attend classroom sessions twice a week; work in a clinical setting twice a week and be on-call overnight one weekend night each week after the first week of orientation during the first two units; and work in a clinical setting three days a week (with no overnights) during their third unit. ACPE students progress through Levels I and II. Students are identified as Chaplain Residents.
  • The full-time intensive program consists of one full 11-week unit plus two additional days. In ACPE this is Level I. The program requires students to attend classroom sessions twice a week, work in a clinical setting twice a week and be on-call one weekend overnight each week after the first week of orientation for a total of nine weekends. Students are identified as Chaplain Interns.
  • The part-time extended program consists of one 22-week unit. In ACPE this is Level I. The program requires students to attend classroom sessions once a week, work in a clinical setting once a week and be on-call overnight biweekly, after the first week of orientation. Students are identified as Chaplain Interns. This program is temporarily suspended at Presence Health until further notice. It is available at Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, IL.

Each CPE unit provides at least 400 hours of supervised clinical education of which a minimum of 300 hours are spent at clinical sites and a minimum of 100 hours in a classroom setting. This schedule fulfills the necessary ACPE Accreditation Standards.

Interns in the summer intensive program and residents in their first two units of CPE practice pastoral ministry in a clinical setting for eight hours a day twice a week and are on-call overnight one weekend night each week following the first week of orientation in each unit. In their third unit, residents work three days a week, eight hours a day, in their clinical settings, with no overnights. They do, however, do two on-call overnights at one of their previous hospital sites so as to meet minimum number of supervised clinical hours.

Residents and interns attend two classroom sessions a week that are six hours each. They also receive one 45-minute session of individual supervision per week.

Class Size
Each year, Presence Health admits four individuals to the Clinical Pastoral Education residency program. For the intensive 11-week program, Presence Health accepts six interns. The extended 22-week program offered at Presence Mercy Medical Center also accepts six interns per unit. These class sizes and the clinical settings ensure that one-on-one instruction is provided.

Graduation and Certification
Interns and residents who successfully complete, respectively, a single unit of Clinical Pastoral Education internship or three units of residency are awarded a Certificate of Completion from Presence Health.


  • The Presence Health residency program begins in late August each year and concludes the first week of May the following year.
  • The Presence Health full time 11-week intensive program is offered only during the summer, from late May to early August.
  • The Presence Health part time 22-week extended program, when offered, is a winter-spring unit. It is flexible and adaptable to the needs of the applicants, beginning December 1 or January 1 and continuing until April or May.
  • Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, IL offers a weekday extended unit from fall through spring.


For questions, contact:
CPE Office, 312-770-3326 or
Sister Paracleta Amrich, SS.C.M.
CPE Director, Clinical Pastoral Education


Professional Resources

Two faculty members are on the CPE staff at Presence Health:

  • ACPE/NACC Supervisor/CPE Director
  • ACPE Supervisor

Presence Health CPE’s main office contact information is:

The contact information for the CPE program at Presence Mercy Medical Center is:

  • Tel. 630 801-2054
  • Fax 630 906-2939

The CPE program also has a Professional Advisory Board (PAB). The purpose of this group is to support, encourage, recommend, challenge and critique the Clinical Pastoral Education program.


Program Director

Sister Paracleta Amrich, SS.C.M. has been the NACC supervising chaplain of the Presence Health Clinical Pastoral Education program since May 2003. After spearheading the CPE program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and seeing it through to accreditation by the USCCB/CCA in 1989,Sister Paracleta left the program to become the General Superior of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville, PA from 1992-2000. Thereafter, while working on completing her doctoral dissertation, Sister Paracleta came to Resurrection Health Care (which later merged with Provena Health to become Presence Health) and focused on bringing the CPE program to a successful reaffirmation of its accreditation by the USCCB/CCA in 2005, valid through 2015. Sister Paracleta received her doctorate in theology from Duquesne University in May 2006. In 2012 Sr. Paracleta helped facilitate the reactivation of the ACPE program, which had been accredited in 2006, valid through 2016. In January 2013 Sister Paracleta was certified to become an ACPE supervisor.


Program Locations

Individual and group supervision are currently conducted in the Nazareth Family Center on the campus of Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, 2233 W. Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622.

CPE interns and residents have their clinical experience in one or more of Presence Health’s hospitals as well as Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, Retirement Communities, and an in-house hospice center.

We have a unique mentorship program in the clinical setting in which each student is assigned a particular staff chaplain as a CPE mentor during the time the student is doing his/her clinical work.



There is no application fee.

Applicants who are offered and accept a position in the full-time 11-week intensive unit or 22-week extended unit of the CPE program will need to indicate their acceptance with a letter and a non-refundable deposit of $100 which is applied toward their tuition. Tuition for each unit is $550.

Resident applicants are not required to make a non-refundable deposit.


Students in the Clinical Pastoral Education residency receive a competitive stipend for their 9-month (36-week) program. They are entitled to a benefits package similar to that of a part-time salaried position. These benefits include health insurance plans and optional dental and vision plans. Residents also receive a non-cash benefit which reduces the $550 per unit tuition to $150.


Call 877-RES-INFO for Nurse Advice, Doctor Referrals or Class Registration Monday - Friday 8 am to 8 pm • Weekends 8 am to 4pm

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