Hilsman, Gordon J. 1941–

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Hilsman, Gordon J. 1941–


Born 1941; married, 1979; wife's name Nancy, children: three. Education: Earned D.Min.


Home—Fircrest, WA. Office—Clinical Pastoral Education, St. Joseph Medical Center, P.O. Box 2197, Tacoma, WA 98401. E-mail—[email protected].


Pastor, educator, and author. Ordained a Roman Catholic priest, Diocese of Dubuque, IA, 1967; certified as a clinical pastoral educator, 1974; laicized, 1977; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma, WA, manager of Clinical Pastoral Education, 1991—.


Intimate Spirituality: The Catholic Way of Love and Sex, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2007.


Gordon J. Hilsman is a certified clinical pastoral educator who uses song, film, and popular culture to promote love and sexual intimacy as a primary part of Christian lives. Married and the father of three grown children, Hilsman is also the author of Intimate Spirituality: The Catholic Way of Love and Sex. The author wrote the book for liberal Catholic laypersons who are serious about their faith and spiritual life and seek guidance on integrating their love life with their spirituality.

Writing on the Sermons from the Bed Web site, the author commented: "A list of the traditional Christian virtues that have historically flowed from the basic teachings of Jesus is a long one, and people who grow in them can be seen as his followers whether they claim so or not." Hilsman went on to write: "Close examination of the classic Christian virtues discloses that Intimate Loving soon becomes a field in which these virtues are beckoned out of infancy to flourish and mature."

The author begins his book by discussing eros and individual spirituality, the natural mystery of the loving spirit, and the nine fruits of romantic love. Graham Christian wrote in the Library Journal that Intimate Spirituality "is a refreshing antidote to the tradition of body-repressive Catholic culture." Hilsman goes on to explore the seven enduring gifts of maturing love and discusses death, resurrection, and the end of love. Unlike many Christian books that talk about sex, Intimate Spirituality does address lust and lusty love, with the author examining the moral and spiritual aspects of such love. After discussing styles of intimate failure, the author presents the four "Cardinal Virtues" of love's foundation. He then writes about eros within the community and presents a chapter titled "Sacramental Enhancement: Can Agape Learn from Eros?" The author also explores eros and social spirituality and ends with a look at the intimate love and the reader's own spirituality. A National Film Network Web site contributor noted that readers "will find the positive, healthy view of sexuality presented in this book illuminating and helpful." Christian added that Intimate Spirituality is "full of subtle strengths."

The author has also written about many other aspects of clinical pastoral education. In an article in the Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy, Hilsman noted: "Literally hundreds of studies conducted in the past fifteen years confirm what has been known anecdotally for centuries: sensitive and savvy pastoral care adds value to the human person and resilience to people in crisis."

Hilsman told CA: "As a resigned Roman Catholic priest I wanted to integrate the two primary thrusts of my life, Catholic tradition and intimate love, and to show how two-person sexual intimate relationships provide a life arena in which we are compelled to grow the classic Christian virtues.

"My work is influenced by my marriage and family life. I have also been influenced by my professional involvements in chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, and clinical supervision, along with psychoanalytic therapy for myself in my thirties, and my education—a first degree in chemistry, master's degrees in human development and theology, and a doctorate in pastoral counseling.

"I work four days a week and write the fifth day, outlining and drafting for myself first. Then I edit and re-edit when I find out what I'm trying to say.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that publishing is a business and I can write a lot better than I can sell!

"I'd like to see the Catholic Church and its leadership soften and see the beauty of sexual intimacy as deeply spiritual and learn from its challenges and joys what some of the virtues and other Christian traditions really mean. I'd also like to see health care transform back into a ministry from the business into which it has devolved, with my books making a contribution to that movement."



Conscience, autumn, 2007, review of Intimate Spirituality: The Catholic Way of Love and Sex, p. 44.

Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy, Volume 12, numbers 1-2, 2002, Gordon J. Hilsman, "Siblings or Foes: What Now in Spiritual Care Research," pp. 81-89.

Library Journal, May 1, 2007, Graham Christian, review of Intimate Spirituality, p. 62.


Franciscan Health System Web site,https://www.fhshealth.org/ (April 13, 2008), brief author profile.

National Film Network Web site,http://www.nationalfilmnetwork.com/ (April 13, 2008), review of Intimate Spirituality.

Sermons from the Bed,http://www.sermonsfromthebed.com/ (April 13, 2008), Gordon J. Hilsman, "Weekly Reflections for Peace over Discord."

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Hilsman, Gordon J. 1941–

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