February 9-12, 2005


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Over a thousand studies have identified links between aspects of religiousness or spirituality and health outcomes of various types. Yet rarely if ever have researchers attempted to engage the “how” and “why” of such a connection. Just why, exactly, should expressions of spirituality be related in any positive way to coping, health, or general well-being? The answer can be found in six concepts: motivation, connection, love, meaning, hope, and transcendence. These sources of strength are fruits of a spiritually engaged life and, according to recent scientific research, may indeed be epidemiologically significant. The challenge for professionals in the pastoral and human services fields is to find ways to facilitate the experience of these positive resources in the lives of their clients.

Jeff Levin, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist and former medical school professor, is the pioneering scientist whose research beginning in the 1980s helped to create the field of religion, spirituality, and health. He left a successful academic career in 1997 to devote his full-time efforts to writing, research, and consulting. He has authored over 130 scholarly publications, most of which deal with the role of religion in physical and mental health and aging. He has published five books, including God, Faith and Health: Exploring the Spirituality-Healing Connection Dr. Levin has lectured throughout Canada, and his work has been featured in stories on CBC and CTV and in Macleans.

Friday, February 11, 2005

In our responses to suffering, we need to distinguish hope from optimism. The Christian tradition teaches us to hope in the presence of God but such hope does not always correspond with grounds for optimism. Yet our tradition teaches us that in the midst of suffering hope emerges, which will not be disappointed. This address reflects on what such a tradition can mean for us. Drawing on scripture and classic theologians, we look at the circumstances under which Christians have passed on this tradition. We also look at contemporary ideas and pressures that make it difficult for us to sustain this hope today.

Kathleen Roberts Skerrett teaches Religious Studies at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where she lives with her husband and three small children. She was educated at Mount Allison University, Dalhousie Law School, and Harvard University. She has written and lectured on Christian responses to pain and loss.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

“To listen to the whisperings of Wisdom … and enter into her dance …”

This presentation hopes to encourage us to move toward the encounter of the Wisdom of Life, such as we discover it in the patients whom we accompany, and the colleagues with whom we work. It will help us discover the resources in which we are constantly involved. We will listen to how the mountain and the sea have inspired the Wise Ones who have gone before us and together we will discern how even in our own days they can still help us to live free in a time full of challenges. Finally, together we will begin to move to the rhythm of our breathing and of the vital force within us.

After theological studies in Geneva, Switzerland, Cosette Odier, began ministry in health care in Québec in 1983 with a CPE unit at the Hôpital de l’Enfant Jésus. Then followed a year with the pastoral team of the palliative care unit at the Royal Victoria in Montreal, under the coordination of the Rev. Phyllis Smyth. Cosette returned to Switzerland and provided pastoral care in a hospital, pioneering in geriatric palliative care in francophone Europe and later in a university hospital with a focus on intensive care. In 1997, she received certification as supervisor with the Association suisse romande de supervision pastorale. In January 2000, she was hired as educator by the Centre hospitalier du canton de Vaud (CHUV) in Lausanne. She supervises three units of CPE each year, and is responsible for the integration of the spiritual dimension in courses to caregivers and to physicians of CHUV … an exciting ministry. Cosette has continued collaboration with Québec colleagues and was certified as CAPPE/ACPEP Specialist in 2001, and as Associate Supervisor in 2003. Widowed since 1997, she is mom to three adult children and grandma to her adorable petit Mathias.

  • Kathleen Skerrett’s Keynote Address PDF
    Please do not distribute this to a wider audience without permission (personal use only)
  •  Proceedings from Kitchen Table Conversations