By Beth Lenegan
Next April, chaplains from across the country will gather in Chicago in the knowledge that we cannot do our ministry alone. Each year as we gather we are inspired, feel connected, learn about ourselves as ministers and come to understand the current needs of those we minister to as well as discover new research and resources available to us. This gathering happens in the framework of prayer, hospitality, and fun. This year’s main theme is “Making All Things New,” with four underlying topics that will be explored by our plenary speakers: co-creation, resilience, transformation and hope.
On Friday, April 22, Dr. C. Vanessa White will begin our conference exploring our role as co-creators.
Dr. C. Vanessa White
We will be reminded that we are not passive participants of life, but rather responsible and passionate partners in the ministry of chaplaincy. Dr. White is assistant professor of spirituality and ministry, director of the certificate in pastoral studies, and director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The Tolton Program is a theological and spiritual/ministry formation program for black Catholics who are pursuing graduate study in preparation for ministerial leadership. She is also member of the faculty for Xavier University’s summer Institute for Black Catholic Studies in New Orleans, as well as adjunct faculty for the African American Ministries Certificate program at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. Dr. White is not a stranger to NACC, and she will inspire us to create ripples of life to all those we touch.
On Saturday, April 23, we will learn the art of resilience with our second plenary speaker, Br. Loughlan Sofield, S.T.
Br. Loughlan Sofield, S.T.
We are called to self-awareness and self-care. Each of us searches for our meaning and purpose in life; to be able to accept ourselves and show hope not only to others but in our own lives. Br. Sofield, a Missionary Servant of the Most Holy Trinity, is currently the director of the community’s Senior Ministry house. He has served as director of the Missionary Servant Center for Collaborative Ministry; director of the Washington Archdiocesan Consultation and Counseling Center; and assistant director of the Center for Religion and Psychiatry in Washington. Brother Loughlan has worked in almost 300 dioceses in six continents. He will lead us to discover that our spiritual well-being can lead us to a sense of resilience.
Dr. George Fitchett will take us on a journey of transformation on Sunday, April 24, as he explores current research in chaplaincy, spirituality and healthcare.
Dr. George Fitchett
Chaplaincy is transformative, and as we grow in our faith, we grow in our knowledge and in our ministry. Dr. Fitchett is director of research in the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He also holds an appointment in Rush’s Department of Preventive Medicine. He has been a certified APC chaplain and ACPE supervisor for over 35 years. Dr. Fitchett will take us on a transformational journey which will help us to see what has changed in chaplaincy, what is changing, and how we as chaplains move through this transformation.
Carol Taylor, PhD, RN
As we prepare to go home and continue to send ripples throughout our places of ministry and in our personal spaces, we are sent forth in hope. People now have more say in how they want to live and how they want to die which has presented us with some challenging ethical questions. On Monday, April 25, Carol Taylor, PhD, RN, will share with us the latest ethical discussions and challenges facing chaplains on life and death. Carol is a senior clinical scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and a professor of medicine and nursing. Experienced in caring for patients who are chronically and critically ill and their families, Carol chose doctoral work in philosophy with a concentration in bioethics because of a passion to “make health care work.”
Each of these plenary speakers will send a ripple throughout the community of chaplains gathered in Chicago and in their own unique way challenge us to make all things new until we meet again.
Beth Lenegan, BCC, is the plenary speaker chair of the 2016 National Conference Task Force.