Regina Caeli counselor retires after long, fruitful career

Dr. Kathryn Benes founded Regina Caeli Clinical Services in 2011

Aaron Lambert

Dr. Kathryn Benes, the founding psychologist of Regina Caeli Clinical Services (RCCS), is retiring after a fruitful 23 year career, 21 of which were spent in service to the Catholic Church. She will retire Feb. 5, and will be succeeded by a former student of hers, Dr. Linda Montagna. Dr. Montagna began at RCCS on Jan. 4 so as to provide a smooth transition of leadership.

Benes directed a Catholic Health Ministry from 1994 to 2006 in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and in 2011, under the request of Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Catholic Charities Executive Staff and Board, she brought a similar program to the Archdiocese of Denver, which became RCCS.

RCCS not only provides excellent and affordable psychological services to individuals and families, it also has formed a new generation of outstanding faith-based psychologists through its internship and post-doctoral residency training program, Benes said.

The response to the first RCCS clinic in Denver was so positive that it has since grown to boast six clinical sites throughout the Front Range, in addition to providing multiple other outreach psychological services to Catholic schools and archdiocesan ministries.

“I have been honored to work with some of the finest psychologists, therapists and support staff that I have ever known,” Benes said. “The love the Lord and desire to serve Christ and the Church with their lives. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

She added that she’ll miss everyone and that “the people of the Archdiocese of Denver will remain in my heart and prayers forever.”

Benes and her husband, Greg, will be moving back to Lincoln, where she plans to continue to serve the Church in whatever manner she’s called to. She’s currently in the process of establishing a consultation private practice that will assist dioceses around the country with the development of other Catholic mental health ministries.

What she’s looking forward to most, though, is spending more time with her family — and especially her grandchildren.

For more information about RCCS and the services they offer, visit their website here.

COMING UP: Navigating major cultural challenges

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We’re navigating through a true rock and a hard place right now: moral relativism and the oversaturation of technology. In fact, they are related. Moral relativism leaves us without a compass to discern the proper use of technology. And technological oversaturation leads to a decreased ability to think clearly about what matters most and how to achieve it.

Fortunately, we have some Odysseus-like heroes to guide our navigation. Edward Sri’s book Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love (Augustine Institute, 2017) provides a practical guide for thinking through the moral life and how to communicate to others the truth in love. Christopher Blum and Joshua Hochschild take on the second challenge with their book A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction (Sophia, 2017).

Sri’s book describes conversations that have become quite common. When discussing moral issues, we hear too often, “this is true for me,” “I feel this is right,” or “who am I to judge?” We are losing our ability both to think about and discuss moral problems in a coherent fashion. Morality has become an expression of individual and subjective feeling, rather than clear reasoning based on the truth. In fact, many, or even most, young people would say there is no clear truth when it comes to morality—the very definition of relativism.

Beyond this inability to reason clearly, Christians also face pressure to remain silent in the face of immoral action, shamed into a corner with the label of bigotry. In response to our moral crisis, Sri encourages us to learn more about our own great tradition of morality focused on virtue and happiness. He also provides excellent guidance on how to engage others in a loving conversation to help them consider that our actions relate not only to our own fulfillment, but to our relationships with others.

Sri points out that it’s hard to “win” an argument with relativists, because “relativistic tendencies are rooted in various assumptions they have absorbed from the culture an in habits of thinking and living they have formed over a lifetime” (13). Rather than “winning,” Sri advises us to accompany others through moral and spiritual growth with seven keys, described in the second half of the book. These keys help us to see others through the heart of Christ, with mercy, and to reframe discussions about morality, turning more toward love and addressing underlying wounds. Ultimately, he asks us, “will you be Jesus?” to those struggling with relativism. (155).

Blum and Hochschild’s book complements Sri’s by focusing on the virtues we need to address our cultural challenges. They point to another common concern we all face: a “crisis of attention” as our minds wander, preoccupied with social media (2). More positively, they encourage us to “be consoled” as “there are remedies” to help us “regain an ordered and peaceful mind, which thinks more clearly and attends more steadily” (ibid.). The path they point out can be found in a virtuous and ordered life guided by wisdom.

To achieve peace, we need virtues and other good habits, which create order within us. “With order, our attention is focused, directed, clear, trustworthy, and fruitful” (10). The book encourages us to rediscover fundamental realities of life, such as being attune to our senses and to aspire to higher and noble things. The authors, with the help of the saints, provide a guidebook to forming important dispositions to overcome the addiction and distraction that come with the omnipresence of media and technology.

The book’s chapters address topics such as self-awareness, steadfastness, resilience, watchfulness, creativity, purposefulness, and decisiveness.  These dispositions will create order in how we use our tools and within our inner faculties. They will help us to be more intentional in our action so that we do not succumb to passivity and distraction.  Overall, the book leads us to consider how we can rediscover simple and profound realities, such as a good conversation, periods of silence, and a rightly ordered imagination.

Both books help us to navigate our culture, equipping us to respond more intentionally to the interior and exterior challenges we face.