by Gordon Nary
Gordon: I understand that you did not grow up in a Catholic home. How did you come to enter the Catholic Church?
Shane: I was fortunate to have had a relationship with Jesus from a very early age, being raised in a small, rural Methodist church in Oklahoma. My faith was always important me, and I experienced pretty steady growth in my faith-life into early adulthood. I moved to Chicago in 2001, just after turning 30. Suddenly, I found myself feeling unsettled in my faith-life, and this led me to discover Ignatian spirituality. This opened me up to the contemplative aspects of Christianity through practices such as the Ignatian examen, lectio divina, and centering prayer. It’s the Catholic Church that has maintained the connection to this contemplative dimension, and it’s where I feel most at home.
Gordon: When did you join Holy Name Cathedral and what programs of the parish do you find most helpful?
Shane: My wife and I moved to the neighborhood in September 2016. We immediately jumped in as sponsors in RCIA, and through that ministry, we met a wonderful group of people. Through connections made in RCIA, I’ve teamed up with some fellow parishioners to introduce small-group Christian Life Communities at Holy Name. My wife and I recently opened up our home to host the first “trial run,” and it looks like we’ll be able to offer 4 or so of these faith-sharing groups to the parish in the fall. Christian Life Communities are a great way for people to experience deeper connection with God by connecting more intimately with one another!
Gordon: Why after over 20 years in business administration did you decide to be a clinical counselor where did you study.
Shane: I studied business and finance in undergrad 1) because these came naturally to me and 2) I thought this was the ticket to financial security. While I enjoyed finance and administration, it was never particularly soul-fulfilling. As I said earlier, my faith was always important to me, and I found soul satisfaction in lay ministry, particularly in lay pastoral counseling. I loved sitting down with a person one-on-one, listening to their story, and helping them utilize their faith to address the concerns and distresses in their lives. Over the years, I had a growing desire to pursue counseling as a vocation, and four years ago, I found myself enrolled in Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies pursuing a licensure-track degree in Pastoral Counseling.
Gordon: Why did you pick Loyola?
Shane: Hey, for a man who loves Ignatian spirituality, where else could I go!?! Actually, the former director of Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling program, Dr. Paul Giblin, had been my spiritual director for several years. I tease him that he “directed” me to the program. But that’s not really true. Psychotherapy, for many, many years, largely dismissed the realm of spirituality. That, thankfully, is changing! And my Loyola program is specifically designed to train therapists to fully integrate a person’s spirituality into their therapy. Loyola was a natural choice.
Gordon: Why did you join The Claret Center as a counselor?
Shane: The Claret Center is a warm and welcoming place for new therapists like me. As part of my ongoing training, I have to practice under supervision. Claret provides that supervision in an environment that, again, wholeheartedly embraces spirituality in the practice of therapy. Additionally, I wanted to counsel in a place where I can freely integrate the Christian faith tradition into therapy. Claret places their “resident therapists” in Catholic parishes throughout Chicagoland, and I’m thrilled to be practicing at Assumption Catholic Church.
Gordon: What are some of the challenges for which people request counseling?
Shane: Almost without fail, a person comes for counseling because they are experiencing some heightened level of anxiety and/or depression. Often, this is related to experiencing some sort of life transition, such as loss of a spouse, being newly married, becoming an empty-nester, and the like. Others come because of difficulty experienced in a particular relationship, such as a spouse, child, boss, or co-worker. Finally, there are those who can’t really name a particular problem or trauma, but they experience an underlying sense of unease that they can’t shake. This is where it can be good to meet with a counselor who is willing to sit with you and ask the question, “What new area of growth might God’s Spirit be calling you to?” And it’s amazing to watch the answer unfold!
Gordon: Thank you for an insightful interview.