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15th Annual Divine Mercy Medicine, Bioethics, and Spirituality Conference — Day 1

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By Melanie Williams (May 7, 2019)
Today is the first day of the 15th Annual Divine Mercy Medicine, Bioethics, and Spirituality Conference.

8:30 a.m. Doctor Bryan Thatcher, MD, International Director of Doctors for Divine Mercy and Founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy opened the morning sharing about patient healing through the message of Divine Mercy.

See his full talk here:



9 a.m. Christopher Klofft, STD, associate professor at Assumption College gave a talk entitled, "The Basics of Christian Anthropology Regarding Gender Identity."

Doctor Klofft began with the Scriptural basis for gender identity, drawing from the very beginning of the Bible: the book of Genesis. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27).

"Original sin, however, has affected our humanity. Specifically, our manhood and our womanhood," Dr. Klofft noted. Biological sex as not simply male and female is now uncontested in the academic world. There are now as many definitions of gender as there are people on this earth.

So what is the Catholic teaching on this? Doctor Klofft used reason to explain, pulling from St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. John Paul reminded us that we are embodied spirits, composite creatures, and our identity, therefore, is bound up in both the body and the spirit (soul). This provides two sets of data of who a person is: one from the body, and one from the spirit.

"The body is very clear. The data we gather from physical examination is clear as to man and woman… Spirit necessarily conforms to the body because of the union with the body. Therefore, if the body is male, he is therefore male. And if the mind is telling him otherwise, we need to look into that because there seems to be a disconnect."

The experience of the disconnect feels real, as in the case of transgenderism, but the person remains male and female according to their biology.

We have a new experience of brokenness in our world today, and this is now called normal.

"Christ calls us to walk with these people even when the truth is difficult," Dr. Klofft added.

This is countercultural, though. In some states now, Dr. Klofft shared, there are bills to make it illegal for counselors to treat gender dysphoria, even if a patient desires it. But we must always defend the truth and act with charity.

See his full talk here:



9:45 a.m. Doctor Iris Mamier, PhD, MSN, RN, associate professor at Loma Linda University's School of Nursing gave a presentation entitled, "Spiritual Care from a Faith-Based Nursing Perspective: Who, What, When, How?"

Pulling from Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, PhD, Dr. Mamier shared how healthcare providers can cultivate their own spiritual life in the midst of their busy lives and profession.

"As healthcare providers, we have our own journey of coming home," Dr. Mamier shared, "and we accompany patients on their journey as well."

"We are also wounded healers," she added. We have to approach care from with awareness of our own woundedness so that true healing can take place.

No matter how much the culture may want to convince us to the contrary, Dr. Mamier said, "Spirituality is still important to people in crisis situations. That's why it matters."

In moments of crisis in healthcare situations, sometimes there is no time to delegate spiritual care to a chaplain. The nurse is there at the bedside and can give spiritual care — presence, love, prayer — when patients most need it.

See her full talk here:



10:50 a.m. Doctor Ron Sobecks, MD, from the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders gave a presentation entitled, "An Approach to End of Life Care."

See his full talk here:



11:30 a.m. Doctor Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy gave a presentation entitled, "Catholicism and the Scientific Research on Homosexuality."

Pulling from his book, A Bridge of Mercy: Homosexuality and God's Merciful Love, Dr. Stackpole explained the scientific evidence behind homosexuality and its effects.

See his full talk here:



1 p.m. Sophia Romagnano-Culbertson, BSN, RN, from the Pediatric ICU at the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) gave a presentation on "Transitioning of Goals in the PICU: Facing Life and Death."

See her full talk here:



1:30 p.m. Most Rev. Robert McManus, MA, STD, the Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, gave a presentation on "Transgenderism: The Multifaceted Challenges to the Moral."

"The right to personal identity is at the heart of the transgender movement," Bishop McManus noted. The notion in the transgender movement is that you can choose your gender identity. The truth is, however, that each individual person is created uniquely by God and is infused with an immortal soul. This brings about human personhood, including an unchangeable identity.

Transgenderism is also rooted in a type of gnostic dualism, where a soul can be trapped inside of a human body, rather than united with the body. When this gnostic dualism is believed to be true, one can claim that they are a woman trapped in a man's body, and vice-versa. The truth is, however, that we are body-soul composites, united at conception. A male body is united to a male soul, and a female body is united to a female soul. Only at the moment of death are the body and soul separated temporarily until the Resurrection of the Body when Jesus comes again.

See his full talk here:



Bishop McManus' talk was followed by a question and answer session with a panel of speakers from the conference. Watch the full panel discussion here:



3:15 p.m. The keynote speaker, Dr. Gosia Brykczynska, RN, OCV, author of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska, RN: A Nurse of Mercy, gave a presentation on the life and times of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska.

Blessed Hanna is the first lay nurse to be beatified.

She her full talk here:



4 p.m. Divine Mercy expert Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, PhB, STL, SEOL, gave a presentation entitled, "How to Appropriate the Healing Merits of Jesus for Patients: Praise and Thanksgiving."

See his full talk here:



5 p.m. Marie Romagnano, RN, BSN, CRC, CCM, founder of the Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, gave a personal witness and presentation entitled, "Living with the Nightmare of a Rare Disease: A Case Study on Giant Cell Arteritis."

See her full talk here:



5:45 p.m. The Very Rev. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, BA, STB, STL (Cand.), Provincial Superior of the Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception in the United States and Argentina, concluded the first day of the conference with a presentation entitled, "Disposition of Gratitude and its Effects on Healthcare Professionals and Patient Care."

See his full talk here:




The conference will continue tomorrow, May 8, 2019.
Learn more about the Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy.

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