An upcoming conference at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville is designed to help health care professionals “walk with people at the end of life.”
“Health care professionals really appreciate this guidance,” said Mary Caprio, director of the Converging Roads Program, an initiative of the St. John Paul II Foundation, a lay Catholic apostolate.
The conference, “The Sanctity of Human Life: End of Life Issues,” to be held on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 2800 McGavock Pike in Nashville, is being organized by the Converging Roads Program and co-sponsored by the Diocese of Nashville, Aquinas College, Saint Thomas Health, and the Nashville Guild of the Catholic Medical Association.
The day-long conference is open to “nurses, physicians, chaplains, anyone interested in the life issues,” Caprio said. Topics to be addressed during the conference include advanced directives, do not resuscitate orders, and other critical aspects of end of life care, Caprio said. “We’ll be covering a gamut of end of life issues.”
Converging Roads provides health care professionals, chaplains, students and administrators with the most up-to-date training in health care ethics enabling them to more effectively care for their patients.
Speakers and their topics include:
• “Clinical Aspects of End of Life Care” by William L. Toffler, professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.
• “Advanced Directives, DNR and POLST” by Arland K. Nichols, president of the St. John Paul II Foundation.
• “Medical Futility: Seeking Better Language for End of Life Care” by Grattan Brown, associate professor and chair of theology at Belmont Abbey College.
• “End of Life Issues at life’s beginnings” by Robin Pierucci, neonatologist and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Bronson Children’s Hospital.
• “The Meaning of Human Suffering at End of Life” by John M. Haas, ethicist and president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
• “Walking With Patients at the End of Life” by Sister Mary Diana Dreger, O.P., internal medicine and primary care physician at Saint Thomas Medical Partners/the Holy Family Health Center and assistant clinical professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Health care professionals can earn continuing professional education credits for attending the conference, she added.
The Converging Roads Program organizes similar conferences on a variety of issues, including: Introduction to Bioethics; Sex, Fertility and Marriage; Beginning Life Issues; Dignity and Disability; Fundamental Health Ethics; and Catholic Social Teaching.
The plan is to bring a Converging Roads conference back to Nashville every year, with each one focused on a different topic, Caprio said.
The St. John Paul II Foundation, which was founded two years ago, also has other two initiatives, Caprio said. Together in Holiness is a marriage enrichment conference to help couples carry out their call as husbands and wives.
The third initiative, Shepherd’s Heart, works with priests and deacons to help them deal with the ethics of difficult pastoral questions, such as contraception, fertility issues and end of life issues, Caprio said. “It’s probably our smallest initiative, but we know it will grow, because there is a need for it,” she said.
The end of life issues conference is important for Nashville because it is such a health care center, Caprio said. But she expects the conference to draw people from outside Middle Tennessee.
The conference will be held 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a networking reception, Caprio said.
“There are scholarships available for medical students and nursing students,” Caprio said. Information about the scholarships, registration fees and online registration are available by visiting