At the end of my first year at General Theological Seminary, in New York City, I spent eight weeks in clinical pastoral education at Bellevue Hospital. In case I thought that seminary was simply about mastering theology, General had arranged a summer’s worth of practical education in pastoral care.
Being an assistant chaplain in a teeming New York hospital for mental and physical illnesses was the most emotionally challenging experience of that year. God’s justice never seemed more confusing or the church more marginal.
Chloe Breyer is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of New York and exeutive director of Interfaith Center of New York. She is the author of The Close: A Young Womans First Year at Seminary (Basic Books, 2000).