The Shalom Center

by Father Joseph Sedera, C.S.C.

Father Joseph Sedera is a Holy Cross Father and licensed psychologist who obtained his undergraduate degree from Stone Hill College in North Eastern Massachusetts, a Master of Theology degree from Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C. He taught theology at Notre Dame and obtained advanced degrees there. He was also the director of counseling at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania. Currently he is the Director of The Shalom Center

The Shalom (Peace) Center was founded to offer a holistic approach to mental health, spirituality, and life for clergy, men and women religious, and persons in ministry. This is accomplished by creating a spirit of gospel, compassion, and a nonjudgmental atmosphere and a safe environment where healing and growth can happen. This is accomplished in the following ways.

  • By providing assistance to those experiencing personal difficulties impeding their potential as Christian ministers
  • By providing an atmosphere for personal and spiritual growth and renewal
  • By offering assessments and evaluations, individual and group counseling, spiritual direction and education on matters such as human living as personality and sexual development, prayer, nutrition, community living, stress management and intimacy.

Physical Plant

The center is located in an idyllic fifteen-acre setting near a lake in Splendora, Texas, thirty-six miles north of Houston. The complex is clustered around the chapel, a hexagonal-shaped rustic cedar and glass structure, which forms the focal point of the site. Therapists' offices, a large conference room, and dining facilities are located in the administration building.

Four cottages, each accommodating four residents with private bath and bedroom suites, include loft study areas and a common room with kitchenette and laundry facilities.

I n 1991 a health Education and Recreation building was completed. It includes a conference room, equipped exercise areas, an enclosed heated pool with a spa, a massage room, and an arts and crafts studio. Outdoor amenities include a basketball court and jogging paths, and a small scenic lake for fishing and boating.

In 1989 Sacred Heart Conference Building was added to the existing administration building. This expanded the facility to include an AV room, staff room, conference room, additional offices and a resident's lounge.

The Program

Often residents are confronted with problems that include burnout and sex and drug violations. Each resident is assessed with a battery of standard psychological tests over a one or two-week period. These tests are considered to be an MRI with a paper and pencil that reveal the roots and feeders of a resident's problems.

The roots of many problems are most often centered in childhood, caused by unfinished growth and development that were never taken care of.

A typical week in the therapy program runs like this.

Monday and Friday: two-hour group sessions in which issues are brought up. The residents affirm, discuss, and challenge each other, and where, for possibly the first time, dark secrets are revealed.

On Tuesday and Friday Father Sedera gives intellectual and structural talks on how people function. If a resident's past is negative, they will consider themselves as negative. Positive thinking, assertiveness, anger and anger management, feelings and emotional intelligence are part of the program.

Wednesday morning, a two-hour spirituality seminar is conducted. Overextended lives and ministering to others, which does not allow time for the residents to renew themselves, are discussed.

Every other Wednesday afternoon the resident meets with a spiritual director. Later in the afternoon the residents do things that are real, such as grounds keeping, washing windows, and other maintenance. This is part of the holistic approach in which all needs of a person are met and addressed.

Thursdays are devoted to art therapy---color, form and stories---which allows residents who are not good at verbalizing to express themselves using these mediums to represent thier fear and depression.

Twice each week each resident meets with a primary therapist and once each week with a secondary therapist.

Program Length and Cost

First of all, an individual may apply for residence and counseling, or the bishop may recommend counseling after the bishop talks with the candidate. Some are brought into Shalom Center.

If it is possible to put an “average” on the time spent by residents in the center, a span of three to seven months best describes it. The needs of the individual and how they are progressing determine the length of the stay. When a resident is determined to be “fit for duty” once again, a recommendation is made to the bishop, who makes the final decision on whether or not the resident will return to work. Unfortunately, some residents never meet this criterion and have to be released from the priesthood or religious life.

After returning to work, support groups made up of former residents meet monthly to discuss their progress, struggles, and successes. This Aftercare Plan permits the individual to maintain “where they are” and maintains their accountability.

Cost of the program is $6,000 per month for each resident. Each resident is charged. Sometimes a diocese will pay the cost, or individuals may donate funds.

Visit The Shalom Center Website

Return to Menu Page

Return to Home Page

Back to