Regina Caeli counselor retires after long, fruitful career

Dr. Kathryn Benes founded Regina Caeli Clinical Services in 2011

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: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.