Ascension St. Vincent Hospital 
Clinical Pastoral Education 

Now accepting and reviewing applications for Fall 2023 and 2023-2024 Residency Program  (Updated May 2023)


Thank you for your interest in our Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program! 


We are dedicated to developing spiritual care leaders through transformative education, founded upon spiritual reflection, formation and competency.

Our hospital has been an accredited ACPE center since 1991, initially established through the creative collaboration of Joan Bumpus and Mike Saxton.   Since then our program has grown to include a chaplain residency program, certified educator training, and conducting intern units of CPE throughout our Ascension St. Vincent system as well as virtually in our national Ascension community.

 What is 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. Participants meet with patients/residents/clients, and from their interaction develop their awareness and skills for pastoral care. Ascension St. Vincent Hospital provides a variety of clinical possibilities and a number of certified chaplain staff who serve as clinical preceptors.     Learning is experiential, 'at the bedside' and 'in the clinic.'


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.   The term 'pastoral' is rooted in Christian language, yet pastoral and spiritual care is provided by persons of a wide variety of spiritual and religious perspectives and honors diversity among patients, families and associates.


Above all CPE is adult learning.  Students write their own learning goals based on their self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses in ministry and consultation with their group and supervisor.   Education is tailored to the personal and professional interests of the group. A unit of CPE is “400 hours combining a minimum of 100 hours of structured group and individual education with a minimum of 250 hours of supervised clinical practice in spiritual care.” (ACPE).

Why Choose Ascension St. Vincent Hospital CPE?

Our program offers a number of distinctive features:

  • We are rooted in the mission of Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, which dedicates us to special care for the poor and vulnerable as well as respect for the dignity and diversity of life
  • We offer diverse clinical placement locations, including Anderson, Kokomo, Indianapolis, and Salem
  • We have a faculty of three CPE educators who work collaboratively as a team
  • Each student is assigned a staff chaplain as a preceptor who can provide skilled mentoring and support
  • We value diversity and inclusion in our recruitment and education, as well as the provision of spiritual care

Chaplain Certification

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

CPE units taken at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital are recognized by all of these certifying bodies.

Program Accreditation

Ascension St. Vincent Hospital has offered Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) since 1991 through accreditation by:

ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education
We Work, Floor 4
120 West Trinity Place
Decatur, GA 30030

Phone: 404-320-1472
Fax: 404-320-0849

For more information, please contact Sean Doll O'Mahoney, Manager,  Ascension St. Vincent Hospital CPE Program at  317-338-9874 or email

Would You Like to Learn more about what chaplains do?

In 2018, brief interviews were conducted with Ascension chaplains; some of whom were students or graduates of our Clinical Pastoral Education program.