State of Souls and Hearts

Mar 6, 2024

Dear Souls and Hearts Members,

We almost never mention politics, current events, the “news,” etc., in these weekly reflections; it’s not part of Souls and Hearts’ mission, which is much more inwardly focused. Nevertheless, as the president of the United States will be giving his “State of the Union” address tomorrow, March 7, 2024, I thought it right and good that I, as president of Souls and Hearts, give you a status update on our outreach, and share with you the various domains in which we operate.

Vision and mission

As you likely know, Souls and Hearts’ vision is to be the most comprehensive online source of the best human formation resources, grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human person and informed by the parts and systems work.  Why?  So that you can flourish in your identity as a beloved little son or daughter of God, overcoming the psychological and other natural-level barriers to receiving love and loving God, neighbor, and yourself.  That is what we are all about, that is the goal of all our offerings.  So we start with that.

To carry out our mission, we have a variety of ways we reach out, including:

  1. Our website at com which includes our Resource Page
  2. These weekly reflections, archived here
  3. The Interior Integration for Catholics podcast
  4. The Resilient Catholics Community
  5. The Interior Therapist Community
  6. The Litanies of the Heart prayers
  7. Promoting Dr. Gerry’s new book, Litanies of the Heart, along with other parts and systems resources that are Catholic-friendly
  8. Guest appearances in other media that Dr. Gerry and I do, archived here
  9. Our free and paid courses
  10. My conversation hours, every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM Eastern time

A bit of history

The idea of Souls and Hearts first came to my mind in December 2018 and with reflection, prayer, and discernment, it developed into a strong conviction.  I shared my earliest ideas with a few of my closest associates, and Dr. Gerry responded with enthusiasm to the idea, and so from the very first steps, we were partners in the endeavor.  After several month of planning and preparation, we launched our website and our first podcast, Be With the Word, in November 2019, just in time for the new liturgical year, and three or four months before the COVID-19 shutdowns.  So now we are in our fifth year of operation, a great time to take stock of our progress.

The Souls and Hearts website

When we started out in 2019, as expected, we did not immediately rise above all the noise of the internet.  At present, our website is drawing an average of 1200 unique visitors every day, which is quite a bit of traffic. We had offers in the past year to host web-based ads, including Catholic ones, as advertising brokers were noticing our high web traffic and how much engagement our visitors had with our content, but we elected not to include ads for a variety of reasons.

The home page is hit most often, followed by the archive of weekly reflections and then the archive of Interior Integration for Catholic podcast episodes, then the Litanies of the Heart landing page, then our new therapist directory page.

In the last year, we overhauled much of our website for efficiency, improving our internal architecture. We added a directory for those seeking IFS-informed therapy from Catholic therapists.  We kept on expanding and updating our resources page, where we organize our content of alphabetically by subject.  In the next year, we plan to include a search bar so that all of our content can be accessed by keywords.

These weekly reflections

Since March 1 of last year, Souls and Hearts has published 50 weekly reflections by not only Dr. Gerry and me, but a few other authors.  I am impressed with the depth and originality of our guest authors, who are exploring the frontiers of human formation, informed by Internal Family Systems and grounded in a Catholic anthropology.

Our weekly reflections in the last year have included series on spiritual bypassing, human formation, the Luminous Mysteries, daydreams, and reviews of five books that Catholics should consider if they want to learn more about IFS and parts work.

Many of our 4000+ members of Souls and Hearts have subscribed so that they can get the weekly reflection delivered to their email inbox each Wednesday.

Many people first encounter Souls and Hearts by finding our weekly reflections content through internet searches.

We are planning new series for the next year, including bringing in more guest authors to address topics we have not yet covered in detail.

The Interior Integration for Catholics podcast

In the twelve months since March 1, 2023, I have released 27 new episodes of the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast.  As you may know, the IIC podcast started in March 2020, in the depths of the COVID-19 lockdowns.  Originally titled Coronavirus Crisis: Carpe Diem, the original intent was to accompany Catholics in working through the difficulties created by the so-called “pandemic” and the societal, cultural, and ecclesiastical responses and seeing God’s Providential hand in all of it.  However, the podcast broadened out to other topics in Catholic human formation, and by episode 37, was bringing in much about parts work and IFS.

From very humble beginnings – including averaging not quite 40 downloads per day across all episodes in our first year – we are now averaging more than 500 downloads per day in the last year across all episode, an increase of 1,250%.   We just crossed the threshold of 300,000 lifetime downloads from listeners in 138 different nations of the world, and has rated Interior Integration for Catholics in the top 1% of all podcasts, which is quite remarkable, given our narrow niche.  That kind of growth can’t happen without you – without so many of you tuning in and investing your time and attention in the podcast.  So thank you.

More important than the statistics are the responses from listeners; I have received calls and emails from hundreds of people who have shared how the podcast has enlightened them, invited them to new, better ways of thinking, provided a sense of hope and direction, and even brought about healing in some cases, which I take as a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the last year, we’ve done series on:

  • The so-called “Borderline Personality”
  • The so-called “Narcissistic Personality”
  • Managing anger

And looking ahead, we have some very special developments.  I’ve just started a series on integrating the four dimensions of personal formation according to St. John Paul II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis (human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral) with the episode released last Monday titled Models of Integrated Personal Formation — Catholic Style, with Matthew Walz, Ph.D.  Dr. Walz is our leadoff hitter, the first among many guests who will share their expertise on the integration of formation in our lives.

Finally, I am planning to make the podcast not only audio, but also including video from now on, starting a YouTube channel and bringing in the visual dimension as a supplemental bonus.  That’s a growing edge for me, and a way I think the podcast will be enhance for audience members with prominent visual parts.

The Resilient Catholics Community

Many of you know that the RCC grew up around the IIC podcast, as a way for committed listeners to connect with each other and have a conversation.  We are now in our third year of our formal, structured human formation programming, and going strong.  We are in the process of onboarding our sixth cohort, about 100 new members.

More than 350 have either graduated from our RCC Year 1 course or are currently enrolled.  RCC members have committed to their own human formation, informed by IFS and grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human person through working both individually and in small groups.  What is fascinating for me is to see the number of spouses of current members who sign up after they see how the RCC members have changed.

Last August, we had a second annual RCC retreat with Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, as our retreat master, and that was a resounding success.  Our August 2024 retreat already has more RCC members signed up than attended last year.

Due to the rapid growth of the RCC, we have had to add staff, and have been so excited that Bridget Adams could join RCC lead navigator Marion Moreland and me as RCC staff (among Bridget’s many other responsibilities).

The interest list for the June 2024 cohort has exploded with 125 potential applicants currently on it, with still 12 weeks before it opens on June 1.

One of our RCC members, Jonathan Conrad (of The Catholic Woodworker), discusses his human formation journey on the Conversations with Jackie and Bobby podcast in a 51-minute episode titled Jonathan Conrad (The Catholic Woodworker): Rosaries + Real Talk, which just came out today!  Check out especially the second half of the interview, where Jonathan discusses IFS, therapy, and the RCC.

The Interior Therapist Community

We continue to host programming and groups for the Catholic therapists in the ITC.  The ITC is all about the personal human formation of Catholic clinicians, and we’ve had three Foundations Experiential Groups in the last year.  We continue to offer office hours, and additional programming in our networking space.

We’ve decided to extend the Foundational Experiential Groups to Catholic coaches and spiritual directors, so three new FEGs for them are launching this week.  We will see if there’s a demand for ongoing community experiences for Catholics in these professions, so that is an exciting prospect.

We are training new FEG leaders, given the demand as well.

The Litanies of the Heart Prayers

As many of you will recall, Dr. Gerry wrote the Litanies of the Heart prayers in the spring of 2022, and they have continued to be in high demand, both in the downloadable PDFs and also in the printed trifolds.  More than 900 have downloaded the free Guide to Praying the Litanies.  And these litanies served as the springboard for Dr. Gerry’s book….

Dr. Gerry’s new book, Litanies of the Heart

Now technically speaking, Dr. Gerry’s book was his own independent project, separate from Souls and Hearts, but Souls and Hearts has been an enthusiastic supporter of this seminal work.  Dr. Gerry’s Litanies of the Heart is the very first book to ground IFS, ego-state therapy and other parts and systems approaches in a Catholic anthropology.  It is exactly what our Souls and Hearts members needed.

Souls and Hearts members helped create huge demand for Dr. Gerry’s book, leading publisher Sophia Press’ first print run of the paperback version to sell out in six weeks.  Six weeks!  That’s extraordinary.  As of this writing, Amazon has only no copies left in stock; the only way to get it from Amazon right now is through their third-party vendors.  Barnes and Noble still has the book in stock.

Dr. Gerry has gone on an absolute binge of scores of media presentation about his book frequently calling attention to the offerings of Souls and Hearts.  Notable appearances include his episodes with Matt Fradd, Jake Khym and Dr. Bob Schuchts, and Dr Greg Bottaro among many listed on our guest appearances page.

Dr. Gerry’s 35-minute video appearance on Determined to be Catholic about his book released last week and can be viewed here.

In January 2024, Dr. Gerry spent a weekend in Florida with other major players in the Catholic human formation space, making fruitful connections.

More scholarly work

At the April 2023 Catholic Psychotherapy Association conference, ITC member Jody Garneau and I presented a two-part workshop titled The Integrated Catholic Therapist: A Compassionate Approach to Sexual Concerns using IFS.

At the upcoming April 2024 conference, Dr. Gerry will be presenting with Christian Amalu their work Defending the Internal Family: A Catholic Approach to Internal Family Systems and Ego State Therapy on Saturday, April 27, 2024 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM local time.  That presentation will be part of the CPA livestream so those attending the conference virtually will also be able to attend.

Souls and Hearts’ member Christian Amalu successfully defended his doctoral dissertation An Analysis of Internal Family Systems Therapeutic Factors from the perspective of the Catholic Christian Meta-Model of the Person as part of his work toward his doctorate in psychology at Divine Mercy University.  Christian graciously makes a downloadable PDF of the dissertation available by clicking here.  More than 550 downloads have registered already, probably making it one of the most read dissertations on the planet, demonstrating the demand for IFS and parts work models to be grounded in a Catholic anthropology.

I had the honor of being the third reader on Christian’s dissertation committee, and walked with him as he worked on this project.  At the end of his resoundingly successful dissertation defense, the other dissertation committee members (both DMU faculty for more than a decade) told me this was one of the best dissertations produced by a DMU student ever, and I believe it.

Souls and Hearts free and paid courses

Demand continues to be high for our three free courses:

Also, we continue to offer two paid courses:

Growing pains

This last year saw Souls and Hearts make a transition from a little startup to a much more established organization, and that brought growing pains.  It may be surprising to know that none of our staff work for Souls and Hearts full time.  Everyone works remotely.

Our office manager, Patty Ellenberger has been amazing throughout the transitions of the last year.  As I mentioned above, Bridget Adams has joined us as well, in community relations and a lot of other roles, including providing excellent content for the advanced RCC members in Formation Fellowship, as has psychologist Peter Martin, who also leads FEGs and will begin leading advanced groups in the ITC.

Marion Moreland continues to be our lead navigator in the RCC, and has contributed so many excellent ideas and so much work to make the community such a success.

We’ve brought on a number of trained PartsFinder Pro report writers.  My dear bride Pam Malinoski has joined us as our Integrator, helping all the different sectors of Souls and Hearts work together in a more integrated and efficient way as a whole system, and uniting us by helping us to clarify our mission, vision, and values.  We will be having our first in-person Souls and Hearts staff retreat August 6-8, 2024 at a retreat center in Indiana.

We have lost some staff.  Jody Garneau, the lead navigator of the ITC and driving force behind its inception has stepped away to focus on her IFS certification and other endeavors, but remains an active member of the ITC.  I appreciate all she has done for the ITC and for Souls and Hearts.

Elizabeth Hofmeister who headed up a lot of the training and writing of the PFP reports last year has also moved on, focusing on her new practice in West Virginia.

New endeavor

I am in the process of developing a 14-module free video course on Internal Family Systems understood from a Catholic perspective – it will be between three and four hours long, covering all the major areas of IFS, with some experiential exercises.  I wanted to bring not only the basics, but some advanced concepts together into one package, and make that package available to you free.  I’ve written the basic outline for the 14 modules, and that free course should be available by the end of 2024.

And, in addition to the free course, I’m working on something else, something bigger.  More about that as it develops…

Communications and conversations

My conversation hours from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursday have gotten substantially busier over the last year, and that’s exciting.  It’s so great to talk with so many of you.  I appreciate how no one has abused that offering, that is very heartening to me.  My cell for those conversation hours is 317.567.9594.

It’s much quicker and easier to get in touch by phone than by email – my email inbox is hard to manage, though I am still trying to get a response back to everyone who emails me.

Adding a patron

After reflection, prayer, and discernment, Dr. Gerry and I recently decided to add St. Joseph as a patron of Souls and Hearts, along with our original patroness, Our Lady, Untier of Knots and patron, St. John the Baptist.  Given St. Joseph’s tremendous influence on the human formation of Jesus, he seems to be such a natural fit for a Souls and Hearts patron.

Pray for us…

There is no way we can do any good thing without the grace of God.  I firmly believe that the main reason for Souls and Hearts’ successes and the ability to punch way above our weight is that we have had strong and ongoing prayer support of our members.  We need your intercessory prayers and your personal sacrifices to fuel our endeavors.  Please continue to pray for us.  We pray for all our members.

In Christ and His Mother,

Dr. Peter

P.S.  I will be taking next week off from the weekly reflection as the new St. Francis Xavier cohort onboards into the Resilient Catholics Community, so look for our next issue to come out on March 20, 2024.

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