Health care ethics conference draws 140

The first-ever Converging Roads 2024 Conference on health care ethics received rave reviews from 140 medical professionals and students who participated on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Presented by the Diocese of Venice, the St. John Paul II Foundation, and Ave Maria University, the Conference theme was “Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in a letter to Conference participants, stated that it was his prayer that, “This Conference will offer opportunities for you to reflect upon the varying manifestations of these secular ideologies that are opposed to the dignity of the human person and the gift of human life… that you professionals will be nourished with the light of the Gospel in the important work that you do.”

Arland K. Nichols, president and founder of the St. John Paul II Foundation, opened the Conference by explaining that the topics covered during the day would focus on pressing issues confronting medical professionals, handpicked by Conference committee members and presented by expert faculty.

“The hope is that following today’s Conference you will be able to walk away with fundamental principles and ideas that will help you further your own knowledge of heath care ethics, how to practice medicine and the practical tools to serve the patients you care for,” Nichols said.

The Conference presentations were as follows: “The Well-Formed Conscience of a Health Care Professional,” Father Columba Thomas, OP, MD; “Truth, Conscience, and Religious Liberty in Health Care,” Mary Rice Hasson, JD; “The Unique Mission of Catholic Health Care,” Cody F. Feikles, MA, MTS, HEC-C; “The Role of the Sacraments and Prayer in the Care of the Sick and Dying,” Roger Nutt, STL, STD; “Ethical Standards in the Pharmaceutical Industry,” Sister Michaela Serpa, FSE, MA, PharmD, BCPS; “The Role of the Medical Community in Service to the Sick and Dying in a Throwaway Culture,” Natalie King, MD, MA; and “Approaching Gender Dysphoria with Compassion and in Light of the Science,” Deacon Patrick W. Lappert, MD.

Health care professions were also offered 7 continuing education credits for their participation in the Conference.

Comments from Conference participants included: “This was excellent and one of the best educational experiences I have had.” “It was a great opportunity to network with other medical professionals and students.” “The topics were meaningful and will benefit in my ministry as a faith community nurse.”

The St. John Paul II Foundation is a national Catholic apostolate proclaiming the Good News about life and family through education and formation.

Carrie Harkey, Director of the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life, which was instrumental in bringing the Converging Roads Conference to the Diocese, said the turnout far exceeded expectations for a first-ever event such as Converging Roads. “For a first event we were told to expect about 100, but 140 is great. This positive response will help promote the program when it returns in the future.”

In addition to the Converging Road initiative, the Foundation supports continuing education for clergy (Shepherd’s Heart for priests and Servant’s Heart of Permanent Deacons), and marriage enrichment with its “Together in Holiness” program.

“Together in Holiness” is a one-day Conference series for couples and a year-round formation series which has been active in the Diocese of Venice for four years.