San Francisco, CA

about Converging Roads

Where Health Care Ethics and Medicine Converge
Converging Roads is a regional conference series offering continuing education for health care professionals that equips them to practice the highest ethical and medical standards of their profession. Converging Roads provides health care professionals, chaplains, students, and administrators with the most up-to-date training in health care ethics enabling them to more effectively care for their patients. An initiative of the St. John Paul II Foundation, Converging Roads is deeply rooted in the Catholic moral tradition and is presented in multiple local or regional conferences. Health care professionals receive continuing medical education credits, insight from national level speakers, and the opportunity for networking with local health care professionals.
Converging Roads™ is an initiative of the St. John Paul II Foundation and presented in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the University of San Francisco, and Region XI of the Catholic Medical Association. To learn more about Converging Roads, click here.

The Heart of End of Life Care: Catholic Social Doctrine

November 17, 2018 | 8:30AM - 7:30PM

  • "Converging Roads is a wonderful opportunity for you, our local medical professionals, to be renewed, informed, and inspired as you care for your patients. I encourage all involved in health care to attend as together we explore how to integrate ethical convictions and medical expertise in the care we provide the whole person." – Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco


  • Physician/Physician Assistant: $149
  • Nurse/Nurse Practitioner: $129
  • General Admission*: $79
  • (Other health care professionals and non-health care professionals)
  • Medical resident, clergy, or religious*: $69
  • Student Scholarship Rate**: $15
  • (Medical, nursing, graduate, and undergraduate students)
  • *Not eligible for CME/CNE credits, however, Social Worker/Chaplain certificates of completion can be requested upon registration for continuing education purposes.
  • **Not eligible for CME/CNE credits.

  • Ministry Registration (including CME/CNE credits): $170
  • Ministry Registration (not including CME/CNE credits)*: $100
  • Vendor Registration (including CME/CNE credits): $220
  • Vendor Registration (not including CME/CNE credits)*: $150
  • *Not eligible for CME/CNE credits, however, Social Worker/Chaplain certificates of completion can be requested upon registration for continuing education purposes.

For More Information:







7:45 AM
  • Registration/Breakfast Begins
8:30 AM
Opening Remarks
8:45 - 9:45 AM
  • Care for the Sick and Dying: Rooted in Catholic Social Doctrine
  • Christopher Kaczor, Ph.D.
9:45  -10:45 AM
  • The Hippocratic Oath: Countering a Secularist Bioethics
  • Thomas A. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
10:45 AM - 11:00 AM
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Proportionate, Disproportionate, and Futile: What's the Difference and What Difference Does it Make?
  • Arland K. Nichols Ph.D. (cand.)
12:00 - 12:35 PM
12:40 - 1:40 PM
  • Conscience Rights of Medical Professionals in the Face of Assisted Suicide
  • William L. Toffler, M.D.
1:45 - 1:55 PM
1:55 - 2:55 PM
  • Alleviating Suffering through Palliative Care and Pain Management
  • Natalie Rodden, M.D.
2:55 - 3:55 PM
  • The Catholic Health Care Worker in an Era of Secular Medical Ethics
  • Ashley K. Fernandes, M.D., Ph.D.
3:55 - 4:05 PM
4:05 - 5:05 PM
  • Accompanying and Shepherding the Sick and Dying into New Life
  • Ashley K. Fernandes, M.D., Ph.D.; Natalie Rodden, M.D.; William L. Toffler, M.D.
5:30 - 6:30 PM
White Mass
  • Celebrant: Most Rev. Robert F. Christian, OP,
  • Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco
6:30 - 7:30 PM
 Wine & Cheese Reception


Professor Emeritus, Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University

Dr. William Toffler is Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University where he practiced the full scope of family medicine and taught medical students and residents for more than 34 years. He is co-founder and National Director of Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation  (PCCEF), a non-profit organization that promotes compassionate care for severely ill patients without sanctioning or assisting their suicide. PCCEF physicians affirm an ethic based on the principle that all human life is inherently of value and that the physician's roles are to heal illness, alleviate suffering, and provide comfort for the sick and dying. He is committed to defending the long-standing, medical prohibition against doing harm.  He has been a member of the Physicians Resource Council at Focus on the Family for more than 20 years.  He has frequently invited to speak about medical ethical issues at both national and international conferences and on US television and radio including the NPR, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, as well as international media in Canada, Australia, the UK and Japan.

President, St. John Paul II Foundation

Arland K. Nichols is president and founder of the St. John Paul II Foundation. Early in his career, as an educator and non-profit executive, he became a popular speaker and successful writer while he established the groundwork for the initiatives that would become the St. John Paul II Foundation. Arland launched the St. John Paul II Foundation in 2014 and he is author of the 4th edition of the Handbook on Critical Life Issues published in 2024 by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Arland earned a B.A. in philosophy from Texas A&M, an M.Div. in Theology from University of St. Thomas, and pursued doctoral studies in bioethics at Regina Apostolorum in Rome. With the generous support of his wife, Cindy, and their ten children, Arland is blessed to lead the St. John Paul II Foundation as it serves, educates, and supports medical professionals, married couples, and clergy.

Palliative Medicine Physician, Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Natalie King is a palliative medicine physician who specializes in caring for patients with serious illness and nearing the end of life. She is originally from Indiana and attended the University of Notre Dame. While in medical school at Tulane University, she founded the Catholic Medical Association Student Section. She completed internal medicine residency at the University of Utah and palliative medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. After fellowship she worked as a palliative medicine physician in Denver, Colorado, helping lead her hospital’s ethics committee and teach trainees. She completed a master’s degree in bioethics from The Ohio State University, partnering with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to improve education around palliative care for Catholic laity. She has organized a forum for the Catholic Medical Association on end-of-life issues. She is passionate about education and advocacy about palliative medicine and ethical issues relating to serious illness and the end-of-life and is set to have a book released by Ave Maria Press in fall of 2024. She lives with her husband and daughter in Salt Lake City, Utah, and works at Intermountain Healthcare.

Senior Vice President & Executive Medical Director, Calvary Hospital

Michael J. Brescia, M.D. is Senior Vice-President and Executive Medical Director of Calvary Hospital located at 1740 Eastchester Road, Bronx, NY 10461. He received his B.S. Degree from Fordham University, Bronx, NY and his MD from Georgetown University Medical School. Dr. Brescia is internationally famous for the invention of the AV Fistula which has world-wide acclaim for the preservation of life in terminal renal disease and in renal transplantation which is now an accepted mode of therapy. Dr. Brescia has received awards and lectured world-wide on hemodialysis and access. While at the peak of his career in organ transplantation, he surrendered the economic fortunes to develop and create a hospital of singular nature devoted to terminal cancer patients as the response to euthanasia and assisted suicide. At the present time, world-wide acclaim has resulted in visitors from nearly every European and Asian nation for education.

Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Director, Center for Bioethics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Dr. Fernandes received an M.D. from The Ohio State University, a PhD in Philosophy from Georgetown University, and an MA in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, with a focus on bioethics. He directs ethics education for pediatric residents at Nationwide Children's Hospital. His scholarly interests include Catholic Christian bioethics, Medicine and the Holocaust studies, pediatric ethics, and philosophical anthropology as it relates to medical practice. He has presented his work at international forums, and is the author of scores of peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters. After a decade as a hospitalist, he is now an academic primary care pediatrician and has been an expert witness in court cases defending the rights of Christian healthcare professionals and prolife organizations. Dr. Fernandes is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Pediatricians, an elected member of the AAP's national Executive Committee on Bioethics, a member of the AOA Medical Honor Society, and a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, receiving Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award twice - in 2020 and in 2010. He has been awarded OSU's highest honors for teaching, including the Award in Mentorship, Professor of the Year award, and Master Teacher Award. He is an active member of the Catholic Medical Association and is part of their national speaker board, and a member of Ohio Right to Life's Board of Trustees. Outside of medicine, his interests include hiking in the National Parks, history, travel, and tennis. He lives with his wife and two boys in Dublin, Ohio. The views he expresses are those of his own and not those of his employers.

Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount Univeristy

Dr. Christopher Kaczor (rhymes with razor) is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University. He received appointments as a member of the James Madison Society of Princeton University, the Pontifical Academy for Life of Vatican City, and a Consultor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He graduated from the Honors Program of Boston College and earned a Ph.D. four years later from the University of Notre Dame. He has written more than 100 scholarly articles. A Fulbright Scholar and an award winning author, his fifteen books include Disputes in Bioethics, Abortion Rights: For and Against, 365 Days to Deeper Faith,  The Gospel of Happiness, The Seven Big Myths about Marriage,  A Defense of Dignity, The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church, The Ethics of Abortion, O Rare Ralph McInerny: Stories and Reflections on a Legendary Notre Dame Professor, Thomas Aquinas on the Cardinal Virtues; Life Issues-Medical Choices; Thomas Aquinas on Faith, Hope, and Love; The Edge of Life, and Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition. Dr. Kaczor’s views have been in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, National Review, NPR, BBC, EWTN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, TEDx, and The Today Show.

Professor of Philosophy, University of San Francisco

Thomas A. Cavanaugh, Ph.D. is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California. He is an Executive Board Member of both the American Catholic Philosophical Association (of which he will be president in 2020) and the Philosophers in Jesuit Education. Professor Cavanaugh has his B.A. Degree from Thomas Aquinas College and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. Professor Cavanaugh has published a book with Oxford University Press on the Hippocratic Oath entitled, Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake: The Birth of the Medical Profession (2018). At the University of San Francisco he regularly teaches about the Hippocratic Oath and medical ethics more generally. He has done so for the past twenty-five years. His other book entitled Double-effect Reasoning and published by Oxford University Press (2006) also concerns medical ethics, as do many of his articles. In 2019, Dr. Cavanaugh received the Smith Award from University Faculty for Life for his scholarship in medical ethics.




This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) and St. John Paul II Foundation. Christian Medical & Dental Associations is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


Physician Credit   

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations designates this educational activity for a maximum of 7 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s). Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Physician Assistant

AAPA accepts certificates of participation for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s). by an organization accredited by the ACCME or a recognized state medical society.  Physician assistants may receive up to  7  credits for completing this activity.


Nurse Practitioner

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME. Individuals are responsible for checking with the AANPCP for further guidelines.

Nurse practitioners may receive up to   7  credits for completing this activity.



This educational activity has been approved by the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (OBN-001-91).   7 contact hours approved.



-Discuss the importance of walking with a patient at the end of life.
-Identify specific measures which can assist in attending to basic human needs, optimize health and wellness, and secure spiritual well-being.
-Share examples of struggle and success in accompanying patients and being a compassionate presence during suffering.
-Discuss the history of the Hippocratic Oath and its practical implications for medicine that is dignified, compassionate and loving.
-Compare medicine rooted in an aggressive secularism with medicine rooted in the Hippocratic oath.
-Describe how PAS and euthanasia are a variance with the oath and care for the whole person.
-Describe the challenges of a Christian healthcare provider in serving the whole person in an era of secular medical ethics.
-Identify means of maintaining the integrity of faith and reason in the current cultural environment.
-Describe ways for the medical professional to maintain a proper understanding of freedom and conscience in the face of a secular medical ethics that sees assisted suicide as a legitimate medical intervention at the end of life.
-Discuss the basic principles of social doctrine for the Catholic church.
-Identify how care for the sick, disabled, and dying is rooted in the works of mercy and social doctrine
-Describe how patient care is rooted in Catholic social doctrine and the works of mercy.
-Describe how care rooted in Catholic social doctrine and works of mercy will be distinctive in clinical practice.
-Define proportionate and disproportionate and provide specific examples.
-Identify the weaknesses of the language of futility in decision making.
-Describe the criteria used to determine whether a treatment is morally obligatory (proportionate) or morally optional (disproportionate).
-Discuss the types of pain and suffering that affect patients and how to robustly address pain and suffering in a clinical context.
-Define palliative care and ethical use of medical interventions that address suffering but hasten death.
-Describe pain management regimens which help relieve suffering most effectively at the end of life. 
-Provide an overview of the current cultural and legal trends regarding assisted suicide.
-Review the foundation and meaning of the “right of conscience” and religious liberty.
-Identify the legal protections established in law and the recourse medical professionals must have to protect them from participating in assisted suicide/euthanasia.


The Event Center at Saint Mary's Cathedral

1111 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

For More Information:
Aubrie Miller, Conference Coordinator
[email protected]





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