Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is experience-based theological education for seminarians, clergy, and lay persons of diverse cultures, ethnic groups and faith traditions. As the program's name implies, CPE is: 


CPE has a strong "hands-on" component. Students meet with patients/residents/clients and from their interaction develop their awareness and skills for pastoral care. Mercy is a Trauma I facility with a variety of clinical possibilities and a number of certified chaplain staff who serve as clinical mentors.


CPE is pastoral, focusing on putting an individual’s theology into practice. Some describe CPE as “doing” theology versus “learning” theology. Depending on the particular CPE program, participants bring to their work a graduate degree in theology, work toward such a degree, or sufficient theological background to do pastoral ministry.


Above all CPE is adult learning. A unit of CPE is "at least 400 hours combining no less than 100 hours of structured group and individual education with supervised clinical practice in ministry" (ACPE).

Chaplain Certification

Most national certifying bodies require a minimum of four accredited units prior to application for chaplain certification. For certification information consider the following:

  • The National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC)
  • The Association of Professional Chaplains (APC)
  • The American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC)
  • The National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC)

CPE units taken at Mercy are recognized by all of these certifying bodies.

Program Accreditation

Mercy has offered Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) since 1974 through accreditation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Commission on Certification and Accreditation (USCCB/CCA). Since 2008 the program has been accredited by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE).

For more information please contact Mercy Pastoral Education Center at 417-820-2735 or 417-820-7440.

Program Mission Statement

Mercy Clinical Pastoral Education Program prepares ordained, professed, and lay persons for chaplaincy and faith-based ministry.  The program provides experience-based theological education in three key areas:  pastoral formation, pastoral competence, and pastoral reflection.

We value our Christian heritage which gives expression to the mission of compassion through the healing ministry of the Roman Catholic Church.  We honor the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy respecting the dignity and the unique diversity of all CPE students as we prepare them to serve others in these three key areas. (PAG approval 1/30/2012)

CPE Links