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.
  • "What I appreciated most about Converging Roads was the fact that each issue was treated with care and with nuance. It was not the same arguments I have always heard, and each issue was examined from multiple perspectives. Presenters were well informed in medicine, ethics, and Catholic teaching, providing well rounded presentations that honored both God and science."
  • -Previous Converging Roads attendee


Online registration closed on Thursday, October 10 at noon.

  • On-site registration will be available on Saturday, October 12 at Il Monastero beginning at 8:00am.
  • Opening Remarks begin at 9:00am.
  • Saint Louis University, Il Monastero
  • 3050 Olive St., St. Louis, MO 63103
  • Cash, check, or credit cards will be accepted.
  • If you have any questions ahead of Saturday's event, please contact Susie Lopez at [email protected].

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, 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, Chaplain certificates of completion can be requested upon registration for continuing education purposes.


  • The Hippocratic Oath: Countering a Secularist Bioethics
  • Thomas A. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
  • Secularism as a Threat to the Common Good and Conscience in Health Care
  • Richard Doerflinger, M.A.
  • Remaining Catholic in a Secular Society
  • Natalie Rodden, M.D.
  • The Medical Community’s Role in Countering the Push for Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
  • William L. Toffler, M.D.



  • Gender Dysphoria in Children & Adults: Science, Ideology, and Ethics
  • Paul Hruz, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sterilization & Contraception When Future Pregnancy Presents Serious Risks
  • Elliott Bedford, M.A., Ph.D.
  • Catholic Health Care: Hope in an Uncertain Future
  • Erica Laethem, Be.L., Ph.D. (cand.)




8:00 AM
Check-In/Registration Begins
9:00 AM
Opening Remarks
9:10 - 10:10 AM
The Hippocratic Oath: Countering a Secularist Bioethics
10:15 - 11:15 AM
Secularism as a Threat to the Common Good and Conscience in Health Care
11:15 - 11:30 AM
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Remaining Catholic in a Secular Society
12:30 - 2:00 PM
Hippocratic Oath Luncheon: The Medical Community's Role in Countering the Push for Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
2:00 - 2:20 PM
2:20 - 3:20 PM
Gender Dysphoria in Children and Adults: Science, Ideology, and Ethics
3:25 - 4:25 PM
Sterilization & Contraception when Future Pregnancy Presents Serious Risks
4:25 - 4:40 PM
4:40 - 5:40 PM
Catholic Health Care: Hope in an Uncertain Future
5:40 - 6:30 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.

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.

Professor of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine

Paul W. Hruz is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Cellular Biology and Physiology at Washington University in St. Louis. Hruz received his Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry from Marquette University in 1987. As a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin, he received his Ph.D. Degree in Biochemistry in 1993 and M.D. Degree in 1994. He completed Residency training in Pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle and a Pediatric Endocrinology fellowship at Washington University.  Hruz served at the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at Washington University from 2012-2017.  He is a member of the University's Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD) Multidisciplinary Care Program. Hruz is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology. He has also received certification in Healthcare Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.  He has authored over 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, scientific reviews and book chapters.

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.

Director, Ethics Integration for Ascension St. Vincent

Since 2014, Elliott Bedford, MA, PhD has served as Director, Ethics Integration for Ascension St. Vincent in Central and Southern Indiana. In 2008 and 2009, he received a bachelor and master of arts in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH. He completed a master of arts in Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, MO. in 2012 and obtained a Doctorate in Health Care Ethics, Catholic Tradition, from St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO in 2014. As Director, Ethics Integration, Elliott provides leadership in fostering the moral identity of St. Vincent Health in Indiana as ministry of the Catholic Church. Working with staff from senior leadership to frontline care providers, he leads the development and integration of ethics education, consultation, and policy development services for St. Vincent’s 20 acute care facilities and roughly 16,000 associates. He also works closely with Ethics leadership at Ascension Health in St. Louis, Missouri to provide support services across its nationwide ministry and helps foster relationships with the Catholic dioceses of Lafayette-in-Indiana and Evansville, and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He is also an adjunct professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Marian University, Indianapolis.

Vita Faculty Fellow, University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture

Richard M. Doerflinger is a Vita Faculty Fellow with the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and an Adjunct Fellow in Bioethics and Public Policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He was formerly Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he worked for 36 years. Among his duties was the preparation of policy statements and congressional testimony on abortion, euthanasia, conscience rights in health care, embryo research, and other medical-moral issues for the bishops’ conference. He is also a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Mr. Doerflinger has testified before Congress, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the National Institutes of Health, the President’s Council on Bioethics, and several state legislatures on the way public policy treats human life at its most vulnerable stages.  His writings on medical ethics and public policy include contributions to The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, The Hastings Center Report, Duquesne Law Review, Cell Proliferation, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, the Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor Press 1997), the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Human Life Review, The Public Discourse, and the American Journal of Bioethics. His monthly column “A More Human Society” is syndicated by Catholic News Service and published in many Catholic newspapers. He holds a BA degree and an MA in Divinity from the University of Chicago, and conducted doctoral studies in Theology at that institution and the Catholic University of America. In January 2009, Mr. Doerflinger became one of the first recipients of the Gerard Health Foundation’s “Life Prize,” honoring efforts to awaken the conscience of America to the sanctity of human life.  In April 2011, he became the first recipient of the Evangelium Vitae Medal, awarded annually by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture “to honor individuals whose outstanding efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.”

Healthcare Bioethicist

Erica Laethem, Be.L., Ph.D.(cand.) is a healthcare ethicist with over ten years of experience working in Catholic health care.  She currently serves as regional director of ethics for OSF HealthCare, where she carries out ethics consultations, contributes to policy development, provides ethics education, and collaborates with leaders to integrate ethics into everyday professional practice.  Erica is also an adjunct assistant professor of nursing ethics in the graduate program at OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing and is assisting in the development of the new medical ethics curriculum for the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford, where she also teaches. Prior to her current roles, Erica worked as a Director of Clinical Ethics for Presence Health and for Resurrection Health Care in Chicago.  She has served as a healthcare ethicist in diverse urban, suburban, rural, inpatient, outpatient, home care and corporate settings. Erica has a licentiate degree in bioethics from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, has a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and is finishing a PhD in bioethics.




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)TM. 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)TM. 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(s)TM 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). _6_ contact hours approved.


-Discuss common cases wherein a future pregnancy that would present serious risks to the life or health of the mother. Discuss medical and ethical analysis of proposed interventions that are sterilizing. Identify ethical solutions that secure positives outcomes for patients.

-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.

-Discuss medical psychosocial realities of gender dysphoria. Identify medical outcomes of puberty suppression and gender reassignment. Assess whether puberty suppression and gender reassignment are in keeping with medical data and best patient outcomes. Discuss the medical literature on gender dysphoria in adult and pre-adult populations. Identify anthropological and medical basis for medical and psychological interventions.

-Discuss medicine’s role in securing the common good for patients and society. Define conscience. Identify the importance of conscience in medical practice today. Discuss the meaning of secularism, manifestations of it within medicine, and how it harms the common good and exercise of rights within the health care setting.

-Identify the role of faith and religion in the practice of medicine. Indicate what is distinctive about medicine inspired by a Catholic world view and how such medicine leads to positive outcomes. Identify means by which practitioners can maintain their Catholic faith and professional expertise to the service of patients.

-Discuss the legal trends of physician assisted suicide in the U.S. and Missouri. Identify ways in which the medical community can address physician assisted suicide in their respective areas of medicine. Describe the medical community’s long tradition of doing no harm to patients in the context of the push to treat suicide
and euthanasia as medical treatments.

-Identify the cultural challenges to Catholic healthcare ministries. Discuss strategies which will increase the viability of catholic healthcare ministries. Identify models of care for Catholic health care to flourish in the decades ahead.


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 [email protected].


Saint Louis University, Il Monastero

3050 Olive St
St. Louis, MO 63103

For More Information:
Susie Lopez, Conference Coordinator
[email protected]





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