St Vincent’s CPE Centre


To Lead a Transformative Pastoral /Spiritual Care Education, Teaching and Learning, Researching and Implementing.


  • Reach out and engaging the Spiritual dimension of the "Sacred" of people through Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • Plan, design, delivering Pastoral/Spiritual Education within the St. Vincent Health Facilities according to its mission.
  • Providing a learning space for everyone who seeks Pastoral/Spiritual education; Clinical and non-clinical.


  • Face-to-face and online group work
  • Action-Reflection-Action
  • Research and experimental process of teaching and learning.

St. Vincent Hospital Sydney was Founded in 1857 by the Sisters of Charity, St Vincent’s Hospital is one of Australia’s most iconic Hospitals, which functions as a full service acute public teaching hospital. It has a long tradition in educating nurses, doctors, allied health, and pastoral care professionals.

St Vincent’s recognises that spiritual care is an integral part of patients’ healing and well-being. It has a dynamic Pastoral Care Department that responds to and promotes the spiritual well-being of patients, their families and the staff. The Clinical Pastoral Education Centre was established in 1981 by Sr Margaret Lee RSC. Sr Margaret remained the Centre Director until 1995.

In reflecting upon her life Margaret was described ‘as a woman of great integrity, who cared about her friends, set high standards, was a thoughtful and sensitive woman with a strong sense of loyalty and justice.’ Today - The Centre offers Introductory, Foundational, Advanced and Supervisory Education programs, and collaborates with some Universities and Colleges in offering Pastoral programs.


Sr Helena Naif, SSPS

Centre Director

Sr Helena is an accredited Clinical Pastoral Educator with the New South Wales College of Clinical Pastoral Education and CPE Centre Manager. She is a Missionary Sister Servant of the Holy Spirit (SSpS). Sr Helena has worked in different ministries in her home country – Indonesia before coming to Australia in 2000. While adjusting to the Australian context Sr. Helena researched to find a meaningful ministry to live out her missionary life. Her journey to Clinical Pastoral Education begun in 2006, this was followed by her Supervisory Education in 2009. She has been a Pastoral Care Practitioner for the last 14 years working in a variety of health care facilities.

As the Centre Director, Sr. Helena is responsible for managing the life of the Centre and its educational implementation. As an Educator, she delivers CPE Courses. She provides Pastoral Supervision for Pastoral/Spiritual Carers or Practitioners, and Priests and chaplains. Sr. Helena’s passion is to generate the Love of God to open hearts and bring alive the Mystery of God or the “Sacred” by tending to the ‘human person’ with its predicaments and reality of life. Supervision for her means ‘shared vision’ with the other. She is interested in reflecting theologically on human experiences that convey Divine message.

Debra Kelly

CPE Provisional Pastoral Supervisor

Debra is a Provisional Pastoral Supervisor at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. She also supervises CPE courses sponsored by the Buddhist Council and the Mental Health Clinical Pastoral Education Centre.

She began working life as a high school teacher of religion before discovering the world of chaplaincy as a volunteer high school educator. A practicing Zen Buddhist (Ordinary Mind lineage), she worked as Buddhist Chaplain at the University of Technology, Sydney, leading meditation groups for staff and students. Having completed 3 units of CPE, Debra was accredited to begin supervisory training in 2021.

She has been a member of the Pastoral Care department at St Vincent’s Private Hospital since 2019 and has a particular interest in cardiac and palliative care and the connection between meditation, mindfulness and holistic care. She continues to explore the integration of Buddhist teachings with pastoral presence. Debra is currently enrolled in a Masters in Pastoral Supervision.

What courses are offered?

Introductory CPE


This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of pastoral/spiritual care. It is a qualification required by NSW Health for those wishing to become hospital visitors. It provides prior knowledge and as pre-requisite for Foundational CPE Units. It covers such topics as listening skills, empathy, grief and loss, self-awareness and hospital procedures. A certificate is awarded on completion.

Foundational Units of CPE

(CPE 1, CPE 2 and CPE 3) (400 Hours)

These courses are aimed at providing intensive training in pastoral/spiritual care by means of a supervised group and individual reflection on pastoral conversations. Using an action/reflection method, they require students to complete 150 hours of clinical work (pastoral visiting) in assigned hospital wards or other approved locations, together with 80 hours of group work, 10 hours of individual supervision and 160 hours of reflection/reading/seminar preparation and Pastoral Encounter Report (PER) writing.


Introductory CPE Course. Applicants are interviewed prior to acceptance into the course. The course is offered in different modes. See below. Group work is conducted at the Clinical Pastoral Education Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. The maximum number accepted into a Foundational CPE group is six students. Limited places are available and we encouraged applicants to apply early to avoid disappointment.

Specialised CPE Unit

Students will be accepted into this unit only after completion of CPE 1, 2 or 3 at credit level or above and satisfactory reports from previous supervisors. specialised CPE requires a heightened level of personal awareness, pastoral formation and professional development in a pastoral care specialisation. It aims at professional competence. Building on the previous units of Clinical Pastoral Education, it seeks to further develop students’ awareness of pastoral dynamics in a specialised area of ministry. This is achieved by reflection on the student’s practical experience of the specialised ministry, together with research into the area of specialisation. A particular focus is on the ethical challenges posed by the ministry specialisation and associated theological dilemmas.

Who can apply?

  • Pastoral Care Practitioners
  • Chaplains in any field
  • Parish Pastoral workers
  • Volunteers
  • Those wishing to work in pastoral and spiritual care or chaplaincy
  • Nurses/teachers/other health professionals interested in holistic care
  • Those seeking more effective ways to care for people's spiritual needs
  • Those wishing to discern their suitability to be a pastoral or spiritual carer within their own profession
  • Kind hearted people with a genuine care for others
  • Those interested in spiritual care in Aged Care Facilities
  • Those seeking to develop their capacity for reflective practice and to provide Spiritual Care

2023/24 CPE Program Dates

Introductory courses

Classroom training (Face-to-Face)

Courses will be conducted over 6 days.

Time: 9am – 3.30pm

21, 28 Feb, 6, 13, 20 Mar & 3 Apr 2024

5,12,19, 26 Feb & 11, 18 Mar 2024  (All saints Catholic Parish)


Virtual Learning

Courses will be conducted over 6 days.

Time: 9am – 3.30pm

4 – 6  & 25 – 27 October 2023

15 - 17  & 29 -31 January 2024

8-10 & 29 - 31 May 2024

7, 14, 21 Aug & 4, 11, 18 Sept 2024

2- 4, 30-31 Oct & 1 Nov 2024

Foundational CPE Units

Semester Units

Semester Units: One day for class and individual supervision and one day per week for clinical placement.


Dates: 13 February to 5 June 2024

Clinical Placement: St. Vincent’s Hospital Campus



23 July to 27 November 2024

Clinical Placement: St. Vincent’s Hospital Campus.

Year Long Unit
  • In person & Virtual Classes:

    Two days a month on Thursday/Fridays for classes

    Dates: 22/23 Feb, 21/22 Mar, 18/19 Apr, 16/17 May, 13/14 Jun, 18/19 Jul, 15/16 Aug, 19/20 Sept, 17/18 Oct & 14/15 Nov 2023


    Date: 29 Feb & 1 Mar, 27/28 Mar, 11/12 Apr, 23/24 May, 6/7 June, 25/26 July, 22/23 Aug, 26/27 Sept, 24/25 Oct & 21/22 Nov

    Clinical Placement: One day a week

    Clinical Placement: St. Vincent’s Hospital Campus.

Summer Intensive Unit


(Four days a week)

Dates: 9th Nov 2023 to 9th Feb 2024

Classes and Individual Supervision: Thursday & Fridays 

Clinical Placement:  2 days a week

Placement:  St. Vincent’s Hospital Campus

What is the cost?

Introductory courses


Foundational CPE 1,2, & 3

Academic award students





Foundational CPE 1,2, & 3

Non-award students

Foundational CPE Unit 1, 2, 3



The above fees include the cost of the CPE certificate.

Where Do I Send My Application?

Sr. Helena Naif SSpS


Clinical Pastoral Education Centre

Level 3 DeLacy Building

St Vincent’s Hospital,

390 Victoria Street

Darlinghurst NSW 2010

For More Information Contact

Sr. Helena Naif SSpS

Clinical Pastoral Educator/Manager

Ms. Debra Kelly

Provisional Clinical Pastoral Educator

Academic Recognition

As a Member Institute of the Sydney College of Divinity, the NSW College of Clinical Pastoral Education provides Master of Arts degrees specialising in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Supervision, and gives credit for Basic and Advanced Units of CPE.

Students with a Bachelor degree or other relevant qualification may enrol in a Master of Arts (leading to a Specialisation in Chaplaincy) which is offered by the NSW College of CPE through the Sydney College of Divinity. Students undertake three core units of CPE (CPE 1, 2, 3) and receive 54 credit points, half the course work.

The remaining 54 credit points may be gained by enrolment in related courses (such as theology, Biblical studies, pastoral counselling) offered through the other member institutes of the Sydney College of Divinity.

It may seem things move very fast, begin and end in a relatively short time and /or in a long time. One thing that might stay is the meaning of each moment spent.


Find out more about student life at NSWCCPE

Call our Registrar on 0420 359 097 or send an email message

Email Us