Staff Spotlight: Anthony Isacco, PhD

Where are you from originally?

I am from Shaler in the north hill suburbs of Pittsburgh, about 10 minutes from the seminary.

What is your area of research and teaching?

I teach in the graduate psychology programs at Chatham University. My favorite classes to teach are research methods, statistics, and foundational courses in counseling psychology. I also really enjoy supervising students who are doing practica and internships in the field. I research the psychological health of men and in particular, Catholic priests and clergy applicants.

What attracted you to this subject?

The Catholic priesthood is a challenging vocation and I have good friends that are priests. So, I was initially attracted to the psychological health of priests to be a good friend to them. My clinical practice then shifted to conducting psychological evaluations on clergy applicants and the clinical experiences have been a catalyst for research in order to better understand the psychology of clergy applicants and to refine my evaluative approach.

How did you come to work for the Byzantine Catholic Seminary?

I started by giving some workshops to spiritual directors on the integration of psychology and spirituality. I then took over conducting the psychological evaluations for applicants to the diaconate and seminary for the Pittsburgh Eparchy. And then, I was invited to join the Formation Team. It all happened pretty organically and has been very meaningful work.

How many years have you worked for the Byzantine Catholic Seminary?

About 6 years now.

What is the most challenging part of this work for you?

First of all, there are so many joys to this work and my life has been enriched beyond what I could have expected when I first started about 7 years ago now. But, the most consistent challenge is maintaining good boundaries among the network of relationships. Pittsburgh is really a small town and the Catholic community is even smaller. So, there are some situations that I have to avoid or be more mindful of as a lay Catholic because of my professional involvement in the Church.

State one thing you wish you had known in your undergraduate days.

I really wasn’t interested in business and politics as an undergraduate student. Geez, what blind spots! I wish I would have taken more courses and become better informed at a younger age in those important topics.

What experiences have shaped you spiritually?

I am a cradle Catholic, so I think just ‘staying the course’ has given me a realistic and grounded spirituality in the faith. In a previous life, I did spend two years in a seminary and that was formative in a lot of ways. I also attended Franciscan University of Steubenville and I can’t overemphasis how powerful it was to be part of a collegiate community so positively passionate about the faith. I’m a big fan of spiritual direction and have been very lucky to have some excellent spiritual directors that have guided me over the years in my spiritual journey.

What do you do to de-stress?

Lots of typical things like exercise, play sports, take some time to myself, read, talk to my wife, have fun with my children, hang out with some friends, and get stuff done that needs to get done. Most of my friends live all over the world – so silly texts that make us laugh can lighten the mood (I average close to 2000 texts per month!)

Cat or dog person?

Oiy! Neither! I enjoy a nice goldfish in a small tank. Low cost and
maintenance : )

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