Houston, TX

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. To learn more about Converging Roads, click here.
  • Feedback from Converging Roads 2018:
  • "This conference was exactly what I had prayed for; God most definitely used this event to offer me guidance for the kind of healthcare provider I yearn to be."
  • "The work the St. John Paul II Foundation is doing will save the Culture of Death from itself."
  • "In addition to the excellent content, it was very encouraging to interact with other Catholic Healthcare workers. I have already been in contact with several of the attendees and look forward to continued mutual encouragement and support."



Ticket Options:
  • 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, and 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.

Exhibitor Opportunities:
*Exhibitor Registration has now closed. All other ticket options will be available until Thursday, 3/28 at midnight.  


7:30 AM
Registration Begins
8:00 AM
9:15 AM
Prayer & Opening Remarks
9:25 - 10:25 AM
A Life Worth Living: Dignity, Hope, and Compassion in the Face of Disability
10:25 - 11:25 AM
Medical And Pastoral Care of Adults with Diminished Capacity and Their Families
11:25 AM - 12:55 PM
Hippocratic Oath Luncheon: The Impact of Disabilities on Determining Whether Care is Morally Obligatory or Optional
12:55 - 1:15 PM
1:15 - 2:15 PM
Medical (Clinical) Care For Adults With Mental Health Diagnosis And Disabilities
2:15 - 3:15 PM
Accompanying the Disabled in Utero and in the First Year of Life: Medical and Pastoral Interventions
3:15 - 3:35 PM
3:35 - 4:35 PM
Preventing Disability Through Genetic Testing, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Engineering
4:35 - 5:35 PM
The Present and Future Prospect of Treating Disabilities with Stem Cells
5:35 - 5:45 PM
Closing Remarks
5:45 - 6:30 PM
 Wine & Cheese Reception


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.

Neonatologist and Medical Director

Dr. Robin Pierucci is Jewish convert to Catholicism, a wife, mother of three, and a practicing neonatologist. She also has a master’s degree in bioethics as well as completing the National Catholic Bioethics Center ethics certificate course. In addition to her full-time clinical duties within the NICU, Dr. Pierucci remains active in perinatal palliative care, as well as leading ongoing performance improvement projects for drug exposed infants and their families.  She has multiple publications in peer and non-peer reviewed journals and has spoken around the country on multiple perinatal and ethical topics.  Additionally, Dr. Pierucci has appeared on a number of programs aired on EWTN including, Women of Grace, The Journey Home, EWTN Live, and her documentary about in vitro fertilization.  She has been a member of the Catholic Medical Association for many years and has recently became an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a board member of the American College of Pediatrics.

Director of Education, The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Fr. Tad currently serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and directs the Center's National Catholic Certification Program in Health Care Ethics. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts. He writes and speaks widely on bioethics and medical ethics. Since 2001, he has given several hundred presentations and invited lectures, and participated in debates and roundtables on contemporary bioethics throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has taught bioethics classes for seminarians at St. John's Seminary in Boston, Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut. As an undergraduate Fr. Tad earned degrees in philosophy, biochemistry, molecular cell biology, and chemistry, and did laboratory research on hormonal regulation of the immune response. He later earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University, where he focused on cloning genes for neurotransmitter transporters which are expressed in the brain. He worked for several years as a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Father Tad studied for 5 years in Rome at both the Gregorian University and the Lateran University, where he did advanced work in dogmatic theology and in bioethics, examining the question of delayed ensoulment of the human embryo. He has testified before members of the Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia and Oregon State Legislatures during deliberations over stem cell research and cloning. He writes a monthly newspaper column on bioethics that is nationally syndicated to more than 40 diocesan newspapers in the U.S., and which has also been carried by newspapers in England, Poland and Australia. He has done commentaries for numerous media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, CNN International, ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, and the New York Times.

Vice President and Research Director, Charlotte Lozier Institute

Dr. David A. Prentice is Vice President and Research Director for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics at the John Paul II Institute, The Catholic University of America, and Advisory Board Chair for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, a unique comprehensive stem cell center in Kansas that he was instrumental in creating.  Previously he served at Family Research Council, and prior to that spent almost 20 years as Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Prentice received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Kansas, and was at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Texas Medical School-Houston before joining Indiana State University where in addition to his research and teaching, he served as Acting Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Chair of Life Sciences. He has been recognized with various awards, established Stem Cell Research Facts, an educational website providing scientific facts about adult stem cells, and is a founding member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, and an advisory board member for the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. 

EMDR Trained Therapist, Counseling Connections for Change, Inc.

Sarah Kinsworthy, Ph.D., LPC-S, RPT is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor and is licensed under the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (LPC-S# 62437). She is also a Registered Play Therapist and an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Trained Therapist. She earned a doctorate (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education from Sam Houston State University (2010), a master’s degree (M.A.) in Counseling from Sam Houston State University (2006), and a bachelor’s degree (B.S.) in Psychology from Texas A & M University (2003). She has been practicing since 2006.Dr. Kinsworthy has received numerous awards for her work in counseling at the university and professional levels. She is a published author, with articles in multiple peer-reviewed counseling journals. She has also received several grants at the university and community levels for her work in the field of counseling.Dr. Kinsworthy specializes in the areas of play therapy, depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, and counselor supervision. She works with individuals, families, children, and groups.

Board Member, Past President, Down Syndrome Association of Houston

Mrs. Fontenot is a member of the Board of Directors for Down Syndrome Association of Houston (DSAH) and Past President. During 12 years as a volunteer, she has taught adults with Down syndrome, created summer Camp Ability, delivered New Baby Luv Baskets to new mothers, promoted adoption of babies with Down syndrome, and provided information and support to families who received a prenatal diagnosis. She represents DSAH at local and state levels where she advocates for individuals with Down syndrome to have inclusive education, integration in community living, and acceptance as valuable members of society. Mrs. Fontenot also trains parents to advocate in Special Education, state legislative issues, and government benefits. She has 9 years of experience teaching inclusive CCE classes at her home parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and promotes Special Education in Catholic schools. She holds a B.S. in Education and M.C.D. in Speech-Language Pathology from LSU. She is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist since 1993. Mrs. Fontenot and her husband of 25 years, Will, have two sons and one daughter, Tricia (17), who has Down syndrome.

Professor of Biology and Professor of Theology, Providence College, USA,
and Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Sacred Theology, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines

Rev. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., completed his Bachelor’s Degree (B.S.E.) in Bioengineering, summacum laude, at the University of Pennsylvania, and then earned his Ph.D. in Biology from M.I.T. in the laboratory of Professor Leonard Guarente, where he was a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He was ordained a priest in the Order of Preachers in May of 2004. He completed his Pontifical License in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in Moral Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, in 2005, and a Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, in 2015. Fr. Austriaco currently serves as Professor of Biology and of Theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also a research fellow at the Center for Religious Studies and Ethics at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. His NIH-funded laboratory at Providence College (www.austriacolab.com) is investigating the genetics of programmed cell death using the yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, as model organisms. His first book, Biomedicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics, was published by the Catholic University of America Press in 2011. It was recognized as a 2012 Choice outstanding academic title by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Editor-in-Chief, Catholic News Agency

J.D. Flynn is the editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency, a global news service owned by the EWTN media network. Flynn has served previously as Special Assistant to Bishop James Conley in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, and has taught canon law at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. He has a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America, and a master's degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Flynn and his wife are involved in several projects developing and promoting inclusive special education in Catholic schools and religious education programs. He has published writing in First Things, National Review, the National Catholic Register, and other publications, and was a contributor to "Special Children, Blessed Fathers," a 2015 book on parenting disabled children. He lives in Denver with his wife and their three children: Max, Pia, and Daniel.




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.


-Describe the methods currently available to help patients avoid disabilities in their unborn children.

-Discuss the ethical implications for medical interventions that prevent, alleviate or cure a disability.

-Articulate an approach that can be taken by medical professionals to assist patients to make the best decisions for their current and unborn children

-Discuss the basis for the sanctity and worth of human life

-Identify the virtues of hope and compassion and how medical professionals can be a compassionate presence and foster hope in disabled patients and their families.

-Discuss how the dignity of persons who are disabled impacts medical care.

-List clinical care concerns common in patients with mental health diagnosis, diminished capacity, and disabilities.

-Discuss care that is sensitive to the unique circumstance of patients with mental health diagnosis, diminished capacity, and disabilities.

-List practical tips for protecting vulnerable patient population groups.

-Describe communication of medical diagnoses, informed consent and treatment protocols for vulnerable patient population groups.

-Discuss the medical/ethical notion of quality of life.

-Describe how disabilities may impact whether medical interventions should be pursued.

-Indicate, through case examples, how to apply the principles of proportionate means to the medical-ethical care offered to disabled patients

-Describe medical interventions that may be made on behalf of some disabled populations.

-Use case presentation to provide practical examples of medical and pastoral care and support.

-Describe how medical professionals may navigate difficult conversations containing medical, social and ethical implications.

-Identify the types of stem cells and stem cell treatment options that are currently available for clinical care.

-Discuss the ethical implications of using stem cells for patients with disabilities.

-Describe the current status of bench research and medical application of treatment of disabilities with stem cells.

-Describe diminished capacity and how we determine it clinically.

-Identify how to determine what patient populations fall into the category of diminished capacity.

-Describe the issues that are at stake for patients with diminished capacity and how we can work to advocate for these patients.

-Define palliative care.

-Discuss how palliative care can be helpful to families caring for loved ones.

-Discuss patient case examples demonstrating palliative care.


The National Association of Catholic Chaplains has approved this program for 7.0 Continuing Education Hours. Please be sure to select the General Admission or Clergy/Religious (if applicable) ticket option and request a certificate of completion on your registration form. For questions, please email aubrie@forlifeandfamily.org


Licensed Professional Counselors

The Texas State Board of Professional Counselors Examiners has approved the St. John Paul II Foundation to provide continuing education activities for licensed professional Counselors. This activity is approved for 4 hours (for the first four presentations of the confernece – please see schedule). Please be sure to select the General Admission ticket option and request a certificate of completion on your registration form. For questions, please email [email protected].


Social Workers

The Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners has approved the St. John Paul II Foundation to provide continuing education activities for social workers. This activity is approved for 7 hours. Please be sure to select the General Admission ticket option and request a certificate of completion on your registration form. For questions, please email [email protected]


St. John Paul II Foundation

7730 Westview
Houston, TX 77055

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





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