Published October 29, 2015
ATLANTA—Holy Cross Church hosted an “End-of-Life Seminar” on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 17. More than 100 people attended to learn about topics related to treatment for the terminally ill and dying, with presentations on hospice care, legal documents, and Catholic teaching about end-of-life issues. Speakers at the event included Dr. Kathleen Raviele, Hugh Henderson from Embracing Hospice, and Father Neil Dhabliwala, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church, Dahlonega.
“In the current culture of death, the innocent and elderly lives are not valued,” said Eugene Vigil, who leads the respect life ministry at Holy Cross. He noted that for people who attended the seminar, “it is important that they learn how to protect themselves” against misguided attempts at showing compassion and mercy, such as euthanasia. Vigil was glad to see the many non-Catholics who came to the seminar, and he described the event as an “ecumenical outreach with a lot of resources all in one place.”
The main organizer of the seminar, parishioner Iris McCoy, explained how the respect life ministry at Holy Cross has “a mission to educate on the whole spectrum of life.” She recognizes that many people view end-of-life issues as pertaining only to the elderly, but she emphasized that the seminar is a “service to the parish and wider community” and that “younger people might be a caretaker for a loved one.” McCoy also wanted the seminar to be an “opportunity to learn about the issues from a Catholic point of view.”
Attendees of the seminar represented a variety of ages and parishes across the Archdiocese of Atlanta. A young married couple, Mike and Sarah Callahan from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, have been addressing medical and legal documents related to end-of-life care as a part of long-term planning for their marriage. Mike said they attended the seminar because the issues “speak to the importance and dignity of life,” and Sarah described how seeing the crisis scenarios in her medical job have made her ask, “What would I do in that situation?”
Mary Beth Roman, a parishioner at St. Stephen the Martyr Church, Lilburn, came to the seminar with her parents and noted that “it is very important to simplify things for my family.” She found the seminar to be beneficial for people of any age because “you don’t want to wait until it is too late for yourself or your loved ones.”
Archdiocesan staff also participated in the seminar. “Our efforts as Catholics to respect life and uphold the dignity of every person must include an emphasis on those suffering from serious illness or facing death,” said Brendan Dudley, archdiocesan director of Respect Life Ministry. He also mentioned how “end-of-life topics are important for everyone to consider regarding themselves and their family, because we never know at what time we will face a medical emergency.”
To learn more about Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues, visit the archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry webpage.