March 9, 2017
By Vicki Cessna
Somewhere between pastoring and his work with the diocesan Trauma Recovery Program, Rev. Ken Schmidt, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Portage, found time to write a new book that was released just before Christmas.
“I’ve always been a writer,” said Fr. Ken Schmidt when asked about how he found time to author his book, You Have Set Us Free: Scriptural Reflections for Trauma Survivors. “It’s how I clarify my own thinking.”
The book includes 27 brief chapters which feature a passage from scripture, a reflection and closing prayer. The book is modeled on the Stations of the Cross and each chapter focuses on an event in the passion of Jesus.
Fr. Schmidt co-founded the Trauma Recovery Program with Sharon Froom (to whom the book is dedicated) in 2000 to help any person dealing with childhood trauma. He explained that “sparks of insight” came naturally through his work with the participants.
“I’ve always been interested in the intersection of different disciplines,” said Fr. Schmidt.
“And since I’m both a theologian and a therapist [the reflections] seemed to come naturally. “
For example in Chapter 3 the reflection centers on the theme of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and the unworthiness expressed by Peter. Feeling unworthy is a common trait in trauma survivors. In an excerpt from this chapter, Fr. Schmidt writes:
“Jesus wanted to do this last act of kindness for his closest friends, to show them how much he loved them and how close he felt to them, even in those last hours of his life. But his friend Peter – he just couldn’t handle it. He felt so unworthy, and then all his awkwardness and bluster just came gushing out, as he tried to avoid the intense feelings that filled the room.”
Fr. Schmidt also hopes the book, which includes a detailed description of trauma in the introduction, might act as yet another avenue to reach someone who may need to heal.
“I believe prayer is essential in the healing process,” said Fr. Schmidt. “Because God wants us to heal and be whole, and because it’s difficult work and we need God’s assistance.”
While the reflection book is geared more to personal reflection, Fr. Schmidt noted that it could be used in groups that operate with a high level of trust, but he doesn’t recommend reading it in one sitting.
“That experience can be particularly intense for a trauma survivor,” noted Fr. Schmidt.
He hopes the book is a useful tool for both trauma survivors and those who may recognize someone in their life that could benefit from the book.
It also may help family and friends of trauma survivors understand the ongoing impact of childhood trauma.
“You Have Set Us Free: Scriptural Reflections for Trauma Survivors,” is published by Liturgical Press and is available for $9.95. Copies are available at St. Catherine of Siena, the Diocesan Pastoral Center and Newman Bookshoppe, Kalamazoo, or may be ordered online at Amazon or Liturgical Press.