Pinpointing the exact time when the Holy Spirit begins to inspire a person to take action is very difficult. However, in mid‐2010, it became clear to Marcy D’Agostini, a Bachelor of Arts student, that her aspiration to bring together devoted Catholic clinicians with a desire to integrate psychology and a Catholic understanding of the human person was something that came from beyond her. A resounding acknowledge of the need for support came from each clinician with whom she shared her idea. Others within the Church echoed a need for a trusted source of psychological help in keeping with the teachings of the Church. By November of 2010, a group had started a teleconference group study of the Theology of the Body.
In March 2011 three people, Melissa Guzik, Jean MacKenzie, and Marcy D’Agostini, travelled to Denver for the American Catholic Psychotherapy Association’s (CPA) annual conference. At this conference, they networked and received helpful guidance from the President of the CPA, Dr. William Nordling, about the possibility of creating a Canadian branch of the organization.
Before long, a small group of Catholic mental health professionals who were committed to praying and discerning the direction the Holy Spirit was prompting them in. From its inception the group received much support and networking advice from the director of the Office of Marriage and Family for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Diane Rouleau. She listened to ideas, provided feedback, and was quick to aid this group in setting up a meeting with Archbishop Richard Smith of the Archdiocese of Edmonton.
In April 2011, the group met with Archbishop Smith, who was quick to offer his support and blessing. He also recommended that Fr. Andrzej Szablewski become the group’s spiritual director. In May 2011, the group met with Fr. Andrzej and decided that his role would be to act as the group’s spiritual director and to particularly encourage group members in prayer and discernment, maintaining a focus on God’s will. Fr. Andrzej also emphasized the need to establish vision and mission statements for the group, and these, along with choosing a name, became the next priority.
Shortly thereafter, Diane Rouleau provided contacts for other people in British Columbia and Alberta who would be interested in joining our group, and the dream of creating a national organization became more of a reality.
In August 2011, the group decided to create a Canadian organization that would be separate from the American CPA. In November 2011, the much expanded group voted that the name for the organization would be the Catholic Psychotherapy Association of Canada (CPAC).
In March 2012, the newly formed CPAC group met with Archbishop Smith to present him with the group’s proposed mission and vision statements, as well as initial draft bylaws for the Association.
Since meeting with His Grace and receiving both advisement and support, a Board of Directors has been constituted and the bylaws have been finalized. At this time, the Catholic Psychotherapy Association of Canada continues to work towards opening up membership to mental health professionals across the country who desire a fuller understanding of how the Catholic faith can complement, enrich, and deepen their work for the benefit of individuals and all of society.