Board Members

Holy Week Scripture Readings & Reflections

Dear Friends,

It’s hard to believe that Holy Week begins in almost a few days! For Christians around the world this is indeed the most Holiest of weeks on the Christian Liturgical Calendar. See below the meaning of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday:

Passion/Palm Sunday

Recounted in all four Gospels, Jesus (the Christ) road on a young colt through Jerusalem known as the enactment of the royal processional and prophecy found in Zechariah 9: 9-10 (“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal on a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”) The Gospel according Luke 19:28-40 recounts Jesus riding down through Jerusalem—“people kept spreading their cloaks [and palm branches] on the road. As he was approaching the path down from Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice . . . saying ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’”  

Maundy (Commandment) Thursday

“Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ (Luke 22:8) ‘When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘this cup is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood . . . (a short while after the Lord’s Supper, “A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But [Jesus] said to them, ‘The kings of Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’” Luke 22:14-20, 24-27

Good Friday

“Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘you brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him . . . Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us! Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!” A third time Pilate went to the people, but their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted . . . and he handed Jesus over as they wished.’” Luke 23:13-25

“Two others also, who were criminals were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘he saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ One of the criminals said to Jesus, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ [Jesus] replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:32-43

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’” Luke 23:44-48

Easter Sunday

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they [the women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” Luke 24:1-9

Peace to you my friends,

Chaplain Paul

"A Call To Action" in light of the Parkland Shootings - Dr. Paul Kraus

Dear Members of the IACC,

I am deeply troubled by the horrific massacre that occurred in Florida on Wednesday, February 14th. This was supposed to be a day to honor our humble call to proclaim love in action. Rather we watched this day turn into horror for an entire community of Parkland, Florida, USA. Let us join our hearts together in sending our prayers and condolences to the families who lost their loved ones to yet another school shooting in the USA.

For those chaplains who are near the scene, I encourage you to be part of a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team to assist in the debriefing process through CISM.  Likewise, let us all be aware of the need that so many around each and every one of us might need in order to process this horrific event.

For those who live and serve in the United States of America, I pose this question to you. In light of this repeated history of gun violence, how can we/you stand-up and take action to end this in the US?  I think we can start by educating people within a process whereby people become thinkers rather than reactors. I believe our pastoral care training can contribute a lot to ending these serious and deadly violent acts. For all of you who regularly counsel those to improve mental health as an LPC, Pastoral Counselor, Psycho-Therapist, or as a person supporting these professionals, thank you for your work! Your commitment to long hours of counseling is extremely valuable to our society as a whole. Keep doing what you’re doing. I know you are making a difference! For others who are professional chaplains and pastors of congregations and healthcare organizations, I believe in addition to acute and long-term care, our task is education.

In every educational process it is necessary to start with certain philosophies that respects core beliefs and ethics. These ethical principles, which becomes our reference line is how we determine the philosophy that becomes the foundation to any type of strategy or methodology. As Christian Chaplains, we draw on Christian Ethics, or Ethics developed by Jesus Christ. Interesting enough, as you know, our country was built upon these core ethics of Christ as the center of what our inspired Word of God instructs us in how to live. As you may agree, our country has fallen away from these core values. There has been too much smoothing over our core ethics that has sadly taken our children’s lives, it has eroded the future of their lives and will erode their children’s lives if we don’t take action.

Pastoral Care is a discipline that helps us to think theologically by reflecting ethically in our contexts. We as pastoral care givers are charged to be advocates for what is right according to our core ethics. That may mean to lobby (appropriately) within legislation. That may mean that we take a stand even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. It means that we lead discussions in small groups, or participate in conferences. Due to the fact that we serve all people, not just Christians, we can make a greater impact. We don’t have a selfish/self-centered agenda. Our agenda is to enhance the greater good of people of all races, religions, cultures, genders, and abilities, who live in the USA and other countries around the world.

Given all what I have discussed in this post, I recognize that I’m only one voice. In response to the shooting in Florida there are ways that I am personally responding in accordance with my own convictions.  I encourage you to do the same of asking, “How can I act for the greater of peace and justice?” 

Peace my sisters and brothers,

Dr. Paul D. Kraus

Reflective Excerpts from "When Bad Things Happen To Good People" in light of the Parkland Shootings - from Executive Director, Chaplain Daniel Davila

Reflective Excerpts from “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” in light of the Parkland Shootings - from Executive Director, Daniel Dávila

At a time of pain and sorrow because of another tragedy, we wonder, “how then shall we express ourselves?” Before we get too analytical, moralistic or judgmental, let us listen to each other and respond with compassion, care and understanding. Here are some thoughts from Rabbi Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  Three basic overlapping questions in the book:

1.What should you do or say when someone you care about faces tragedy?

"It is hard to know what to say to a person who has been struck by tragedy, but it is easier to know what not to say. Anything critical of the mourner ('don't take it so hard,' 'try to hold back your tears, you're upsetting people') is wrong. Anything which tries to minimize the mourner's pain ('it's probably for the best,' 'it could be a lot worse,' 'she's better off now') is likely to be misguided and unappreciated. Anything which asks the mourner to disguise or reject his feelings ('we have no right to question God,' 'God must love you to have selected you for this burden') is wrong as well." [page 89]

"I said to Barry, as I feel religious people should say to those who have been hurt by life, 'This was not your fault. You are a good, decent person who deserves better. I can understand that you feel hurt, confused, angry at what happened, but there is no reason why you should feel guilty. As a man of faith, I have come to you in God's name, not to judge you, but to help you. Will you let me help you?'" [page 104]

2.How should you think about and react to the tragedy in your own life?

"Is there an answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people? That depends on what we mean by 'answer'. If we mean 'Is there an explanation which will make sense of it all?'… then there probably is no satisfying answer. We can offer learned explanations, but in the end, when we have covered all the squares on the game board and are feeling very proud of our cleverness, the pain and the anguish and the sense of unfairness will still be there. But the word 'answer' can also mean 'response' as well as 'explanation,' and in that sense, there may well be a satisfying answer to the tragedies in our lives. The response would be Job's response in MacLeish's version of the biblical story-to forgive the world for not being perfect, to forgive God for not making a better world, to reach out to the people around us, and to go on living despite it all." [page 147]

"What do we do with our anger when we have been hurt? The goal, if we can achieve it, would be to be angry at the situation, rather than at ourselves, or at those who might have prevented it or are close to us trying to help us, or at God who let it happen. Getting angry at ourselves makes us depressed. Being angry at other people scares them away and makes it harder for them to help us. Being angry at God erects a barrier between us and all the sustaining, comforting resources of religion that are there to help us at such times. But being angry at the situation, recognizing it as something rotten, unfair, and totally undeserved, shouting about it, denouncing it crying over it, permits us to discharge the anger which is a part of being hurt, without making it harder for us to be helped." [pages 108-109]

"All we can do is try to rise beyond the question 'why did it happen?' and begin to ask the question 'what do I do now that it has happened?'" [page 71]

3.What kind of God can we believe in when bad things can happen to good people?

"Let me suggest that the author of the Book of Job takes the position which neither Job nor his friends take. He believes in God's goodness and in Job's goodness, and is prepared to give up his belief in proposition (A): that God is all-powerful." [page 42]

"If God is God of justice and not of power, then He can still be on our side when bad things happen to us. He can know that we are good and honest people who deserve better. Our misfortunes are none of His doing, and so we can turn to Him for help." [page 44]

"The God I believe in doesn't send us the problem; He gives us the strength to cope with the problem." [page 127]

"The conventional explanation, that God sends us the burden because He knows that we are strong enough to handle it, has it all wrong. Fate, not God, sends us the problem. When we try to deal with it, we find out that we are not strong. We are weak; we get tired, we get angry, overwhelmed. We begin to wonder how we will ever make it through all the years. But when we reach the limits of our own strength and courage, something unexpected happens. We find reinforcement coming from a source outside ourselves. And in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God is on our side, we manage to go on." [page 129]


A Valentine's Ash Wednesday by Chaplain Paul Kraus

Dear Friends,

I don’t recall in the past, at least in my life time, when Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday both fell on February 14th. Next week is the case. So of course, this has gotten me to ponder the meaning of both and what perhaps they have in common. Well, I have written several articles on the meaning of both so allow me to share and intersect them:

As the song goes, “Love is in the air…” I think Love reaches new heights just in time for Valentine’s Day (actually the whole month of February). Many of us just hover a few inches above ground as we go about our day. Love lifts us above all reality. In other words, there’s not too much thinking going on these days, just day dreaming . . . I guess that’s not all that bad. 

You know love does have a way of knocking our legs out from underneath of us. It’s amazing to me that the One who invented Love in the first place was not only the first to love us but the One who keeps on loving us! Now that will keep my feet off the ground for sure! In fact, I John 10 says, “. . . not that we loved God, but that God first loved us. . .” God never gives up on us. I wonder how many times we give up on God. The same goes with our human relationships. Is our love for that special someone pure and unconditional, or are we waiting for him/her to make the first call? Paul (the apostle) after writing a lengthy list about what characterizes love says in verse 8 of I Corinthians 13 “Love never ends.” Couples during their wedding ceremony cherish these three words (at least for the first 24 hours). 

I’m glad that God’s Love never ends. Although God is infinite and we are finite we can learn to be more like God. I wonder how our relationships would improve if we would try loving others the way God loves us. “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” I Cor. 13:4-7 

Sometimes we push ourselves to the limit as we care for others. As we give the deepest part of our selves in helping others I hope you find ways to push the pause button every once in a while to reflect, meditate, and contemplate. 

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Let this day begin a new process for you to rejuvenate, refresh, restore, recreate, and replenish. You may not include Ash Wednesday among your practices and rituals, but perhaps from a different tradition or perspective you can still take a moment to reflect on your life. Are there changes that need to be made; People to forgive; Forgiveness for you; Stressors that need to be reduced? As you restore your spiritual well, clear waters will naturally flow making your human existence whole again.  
Ash Wednesday Explained

According to the Liturgical Calendar of the Christian tradition, next Wednesday, February 14th  is Ash Wednesday. Christians from around the world mark this day as the first of forty days of Lent. Ashes are distributed and placed on believers’ foreheads in a shape of a cross to signify the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, death (passion) and resurrection for each believer. The ashes become a sign of humanity’s mortality (limitedness and finitude) and our need to be dependent on God who is limitless and infinite.  
Self-examination and repentance by prayer, fasting, and self-denial is at the heart of the meaning of this first day in the Lenten Season. Ashes are used as symbols of the Christian faith (ashes are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned and are then used to mark the sign of the cross on the believer’s forehead). In other words, the ashes help us literally and symbolically get in touch with a deeper understanding of our human existence. It is the Church’s way to remind believers that we are not God. We strive to be like God, but we will never be God. Our good nature which was created from the very beginning of time purposely and appropriately includes being imperfect, limited, and finite. 

Next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) helps us to celebrate and embrace our humanity with all its imperfections; and it also reminds us that our goal is never to be God. Lastly, Christians celebrate their true dependence on our Creator knowing that when it comes down to it we are mere dust in the ground in comparison to who God is. This is why Christians receive these words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return—(Genesis 3:19) Turn away from sin and be faithful to God.”

Now to bring them together. Valentine’s day usually brings couples together to celebrate their love for each other. Roses and/or a box of chocolates is the fragrance and sweetness that symbolizes the relationship between them. Ash Wednesday is a day to begin or re-establish a life long journey of the love we have for God and humans. Ashes are symbolic of our re-dedication of our relationships through self-examination and humility. 

I believe both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday helps us to be grounded. How many times has our significant relationships gone bitter due to power struggles or the lack of forgiveness? Why has it come to this? The underside of believing we have power over our significant other is the fear of having no power. Similarly, what lies behind the lack of forgiveness is the risk that forgiveness brings with it the lack of power. If Ash Wednesday does not teach us anything else, it is does teach us the life of humility. It is how (in most religious traditions) that God was able to identify with humans in a much more meaningful way. If God (our Maker) finds humility to be the substance for a significant relationship I can only imagine that it is true for human relationships. So I encourage us to unite these symbolic days together by finding ways to reduce the powers we have over or under each other, by committing to empower each other with a love that goes deeper than roses and chocolates, but with a love that never ends! 

Chaplain Paul         

Meet IACC's Executive Director, Daniel Davila

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Chaplain Daniel Davila

Executive Director


Chaplain Daniel Dávila is the Interim Director of Spiritual Care at Austin State Hospital and supervisor/trainer of chaplain interns at Austin State Hospital. Chaplain Dávila is a Board Certified Chaplain with the International Associaiton of Christian Chaplains and a Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and Diplomate with CPSP (College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy). Chaplain Dávila also serves on the Austin State Hospital Spanish Language Interpreter Program.

Chaplain Dávila is ordained and endorsed by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.

Chaplain Dávila received his BA at Evangel University, M.Div. at Philipps University Graduate Seminary, MAR at the Iliff School of Theology and he also did graduate work at St. Thomas Catholic Seminary in Denver and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. His clinical pastoral education was done in Tulsa Hillcrest Medical Center, Corpus Christi Memorial Medical Center and Driscoll Children’s Hospital. 

Chaplain Dávila has made presentations at the San Antonio Ecumenical Center, Austin State Support Living Center and the Austin State Hospital on “Principlism and Ethics” to physicians, social workers and clergy and has also made presentations to physicians, social workers and clergy on “Awareness of Cultural and Interfaith Diversity” at Memorial Medical Center in Corpus Christi.  Daniel also has his pastoral counseling private practice at the African American Harvest Youth Foundation in Austin. 

Chaplain Dávila has taught pastoral care and counseling in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. He has served as President in the Weslaco Ministerial Alliances and in the Austin Latin Ministerial Alliance.   Most recently, Spring 2016, he served as adjunct professor of Pastoral Counseling at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

Chaplain Dávila came to ASH as a volunteer serving Spanish speaking persons in 2004; then as full time temporary in May 2005-2006, while Chaplain Ron was on US Army duty in Afghanistan. He was hired as permanent employee in Sept 2006 and has been essential to serving the persons and staff at ASH since.

Meet IACC's President - Paul Kraus

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(Throughout the next couple of months we will be introducing you to various members of our board as well as other members of IACC.  We begin this series of blog entries introducing you to our President, Rev. Dr. Paul D. Kraus.)


Dr. Kraus has spent over three decades in pastoral ministry and pastoral care & counseling serving parishes, healthcare facilities and academic institutions. He is currently the director of pastoral care services at the Austin State Supported Living Center within the Health and Human Services Commission of Texas (HHSC-TX), and adjunct professor at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Seminary of the Southwest, and didactic instructor for the CPE Center at Austin State Hospital, Austin, Texas. Dr. Kraus is a board member with Humanitarians in the Arts, member of the state chaplains’ association advisory committee of HHSC of TX, and member of the seminary of the southwest master of chaplaincy and pastoral care and spiritual formation advisory council.

Dr. Kraus came to Austin nine years ago from San Antonio where he was the director of pastoral care and CPE coordinator for the Baptist Health System, as well as a faculty member and administrator with the Baptist University of the Americas for eight years. While in San Antonio, he held the position of partnership coordinator/ professor for the Texas-Mexico Pastoral Care and Counseling Conferences for fourteen years. Before moving to Texas he held a range of ministerial positions in Presbyterian and Baptist churches in the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas.

Dr. Kraus authored and peer reviewed over 20 professional publications in his career highlighting three distinct national and international publications – (1) Author - “Pastoral Care” A Computer Assisted Instruction for Nursing and Allied Health, A.S.K. Data Systems, Paul D. Kraus. (2008); (2) Reviewer - “The Practice of Community Nursing”, A Computer Assisted Instruction for Nursing and Allied Health, A.S.K. Data Systems, Battey, B.W. (2006); (3) Academic Journal Reviewer - “New Zealand nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care: qualitative findings from a national survey” Religions, 2017.

+Ordained and Endorsed by the American Baptist Churches (ABC-USA)
+ACPE-Clinical Pastoral Education – 1,600 clinical hours
+BA, Eastern University, St. David’s, PA
+M.Div., Palmer Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA
+D.Min, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas