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.



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:
Includes 1 exhibitor booth and admission for 1 organizational representative
  • Ministry/Non-Profit (including CME/CNE credits): $170
  • Ministry/Non-Profit (not including CME/CNE credits)*: $100
  • Vendor/For-Profit (including CME/CNE credits): $220
  • Vendor/For-Profit (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.


7:00 AM
Registration Begins
7:30 AM
8:45 AM
Prayer & Opening Remarks
8:55 - 9:55 AM
A Life Worth Living: Dignity, Hope, and Compassion in the Face of Disability
10:00 - 11:00 AM
The Impact of Disabilities on Determining Whether Care is Morally Obligatory or Optional
11:00 - 11:20 AM
11:20 AM - 12:20 PM
Medical And Pastoral Care of Adults with Diminished Capacity and Their Families
12:20 - 1:50 PM
Hippocratic Oath Luncheon: Medical (Clinical) Care For Adults With Mental Health Diagnosis And Disabilities
1:50 - 2:05 PM
2:05 - 3:05 PM
Accompanying the Disabled in Utero and in the First Year of Life: Medical and Pastoral Interventions
3:10 - 4:10 PM
Preventing Disability Through Genetic Testing, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Engineering
4:10 - 4:20 PM
4:20 - 5:20 PM
The Present and Future Prospect of Treating Disabilities with Stem Cells
5:30 - 6:30 PM
Closing Remarks and Wine & Cheese Reception


Natalie Rodden, M.D.
Palliative Medicine Physician, St. Anthony North Health Campus, Westminster, CO

Natalie Rodden, M.D. is a palliative medicine physician at St. Anthony North Health Campus in the Denver metro area.  She is a member of the Catholic Medical Association and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Rodden received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and her M.D. from Tulane University. She completed internal medicine residency at the University of Utah and palliative medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic Arizona. During medical school, she founded the Catholic Medical Association Student section, a national organization with the goal of preparing students to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine. She has been active in advancing efforts of support for Catholic healthcare workers in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Salt Lake City, and now the Archdiocese of Denver.  She writes and speaks nationally on practicing authentically Catholic end of life care and advocating against physician assisted suicide. Dr. Rodden is currently pursuing a masters degree in clinical bioethics.  She leads an inpatient palliative care consultation service and serves as co-chair of her hospital's ethics committee.

Robin L. Pierucci, M.D. M.A.
Neonatologist and Medical Director

Robin Pierucci, MD, MA Dr. Robin Pierucci is a wife, mother, and a practicing neonatologist. She also has a Masters degree in bioethics, and completed the National Catholic Bioethics Center certificate course. A Jewish convert to Catholicism, Dr. Pierucci has been seen on a number of shows aired on EWTN including: “EWTN Live”, “Women of Grace”, “The Journey Home”, and in her documentary about in-vitro fertilization.  In the last year she has been active with Women Speak for Themselves and has had pieces published in The Federalist and The National Review—on line. When not at work, Dr. Pierucci can most likely be found driving at least one of her three children to or from practice somewhere.

Rev. Tadeusz Pascholczyk, Ph.D
Director of Education, 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 at St. John's Seminary in Boston, 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.

David A. Prentice, Ph.D.
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. 

Sarah Kinsworthy, Ph.D. LPC-S, RPT,
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.

Ann P. Fontenot, MCD, CCC-SLP
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.

Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, O.P., Ph.D., S.T.D.
Professor of Biology and of Theology, Providence College,
and Research Fellow, Center for Religious Studies and Ethics, University of Santo Tomas

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.

J.D. Flynn, 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.



St. John Paul II Foundation

7730 Westview
Houston, TX 77055

For More Information:
Aubrie Miller, Conference Coordinator





    7730 Westview
    Houston, TX 77055


    P.O. Box 5927
    Katy, TX 77491