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School of Theology and Ministry

Melissa Kelley, Associate Professor of
Pastoral Care and Contextual Education

Melissa Kelley, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Contextual Education

Grief is a universal experience—its common threads are woven through circumstances and cultures.

But we know little about the kind of grief that is born of injustice, says Melissa Kelley, associate professor of pastoral care and and counseling and faculty director of the M.Div. professional ministry practicum. "I think it's an important area to explore. It's one thing to offer comfort in the face of grief. But how does a pastoral caregiver alleviate suffering for a loss that need not have happened in the first place?"

The author of Grief: Contemporary Theory and the Practice of Ministry, Kelley worked as a campus minister at Boston College and Emmanuel College and was a faculty member at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge before joining the School of Theology and Ministry faculty in 2008. As the director of the School's professional ministry practicum for graduate students in divinity and theology, she enjoys close connections with students.

"I spend a lot of time speaking with students in the practicum program about their career goals and helping them decide what kind of internship they'd like to do," says Kelley. "The students then go on to internships in fields such as hospital chaplaincy, campus ministry, the teaching of theology, or spiritual direction—all under the guidance of an experienced mentor."

The internship provides an important opportunity for students to test out different areas of ministry. "For some, the internship serves as confirmation that the deep desire they have for a particular ministry matches their gifts," says Kelley. "For others, the experience prompts them to move into a different kind of work.

"But for all of them, it's a key point of integration and synthesis where they can take what they're learning in the classroom and figure out how best to translate it to the real world."