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.
    • "Every person can benefit from the presentations as we gather together to reflect upon pastoral challenges in accompanying the faithful in the face of various forms of physical, mental, legal, and spiritual suffering due to disabilities."
    • - Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans

  • The Alder Hotel is offering a generous group rate to any conference attendees looking for accommodations in New Orleans during the weekend of Converging Roads.
  • Book online at alderhotel.com or call 888-626-5861 with code CONVROAD.




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
  • Exhibitors must be approved prior to registration. Please email Conference Coordinator Sara Dietz at [email protected] to request approval.
  • *Not eligible for CME/CNE credits, however, Social Worker/Chaplain certificates of completion can be requested upon registration for continuing education purposes.


  • Accompanying the Disabled in Utero and in the First Year of Life: Medical and Pastoral Interventions
  • DiAnn Ecret, PhD, MSN, RN, MA
  • A Life Worth Living: Dignity, Hope, & Compassion in the Face of Disability
  • J.D. Flynn
  • Legal and Cultural Challenges for Individuals with Disabilities who are Targeted for Death
  • Stephen Mikochik, JD
  • The Impact of Disabilities on Determining Whether Care is Morally Obligatory or Optional
  • John Meinert, PhD
  • The Ethics of Refusing Treatment to Patients who are Actively Dying or Demented
  • Deacon Alan Rastrelli, MD
  • Preventing Disability through Genetic Testing, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Engineering
  • Stacy A. Trasancos, PhD
  • Creating Hospitals and Clinics that are Patient-Centric and Honor the Dignity of the Person
  • Thomas J. Neal, PhD and Landon Roussel, MD


7:00 AM
Check-In/Registration Begins
7:30 AM
8:30 AM
Opening Remarks
8:40 - 9:40 AM
A Life Worth Living: Dignity, Hope, & Compassion in the Face of Disability
9:45 - 10:45 AM
The Impact of Disabilities on Determining Whether Care is Morally Obligatory or Optional
10:45 - 11:00 AM
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Accompanying the Disabled in Utero and in the First Year of Life: Medical and Pastoral Interventions
12:00 - 1:40 PM
  • Hippocratic Oath Luncheon:
  • Creating Hospitals that are Patient-Centric and Honor the Dignity of the Person
1:40 - 2:00 PM
2:00 - 3:00 PM
Preventing Disability through Genetic Testing, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Engineering
3:05 - 4:05 PM
The Ethics of Refusing Treatment for Patients who are Actively Dying or Demented
4:05 - 4:20 PM
4:20 - 5:20 PM
Legal and Cultural Challenges for Individuals with Disabilities who are Targeted for Death
5:20 PM
Closing Remarks
5:30 - 6:15 PM
Wine & Cheese Networking Reception


Staff Ethicist, Nurse Planner, and Assistant Professor of Nursing

DiAnn Ecret joined the National Catholic Bioethics center during the summer of 2016. DiAnn is a staff ethicist, nurse planner and a a full time Assistant Professor of Nursing at Ave Maria University. DiAnn graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing in 1987, completed her BSN & MSN from Wilmington University, an MA certification in theology/ethics from Villanova University. She completed her PhD in Health Care Ethics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2017. DiAnn has 35 years of combined nursing experience in adult, pediatric, and neonatal critical care nursing, nursing management and nursing education. DiAnn teaches undergraduate nursing at Ave Maria University, is on the Health Care Task Force at Life Perspectives, serves as a member of the President’s Bioethics Committee at the University of Mary of Minnesota, and volunteers as an ethics consultant for Be Not Afraid.   DiAnn is married to her husband Mike for 34 years, with 4 children, and 2 grandchildren.

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.

Assistant Professor of Theology, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University

John Meinert, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Theology at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University where he teaches Moral Theology, Catholic Social Thought, Bioethics, and Spirituality. He holds a B.A. in Theology from Benedictine College, an M.A. in Theology from the University of Dallas, and a Ph.D. in Moral Theology/Ethics from The Catholic University of America. He has two published books and numerous scholarly and popular articles concerning Moral Theology, St. Thomas Aquinas, Grace, and Spirituality. He is currently a member of the Louisiana State Board of Ethics (appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards), the founder and director of FranU’s bioethics lecture series, and a member of multiple theological organizations (ACT, SCE, and CTSA).

Owner & Chief Medical Officer, Communitas Primary Care

Dr. Landon Roussel is the owner and founder of Communitas Primary Care. He earned his M.D. from Cornell Medical College in New York City, a master’s degree in bioethics summa cum laude through the Erasmus Mundus program in Universities of Leuven (Belgium), Radboud (Netherlands), and Padova (Italy), and bachelors’ degrees magna cum laude in biochemistry and Hispanic studies from Rice University in Houston. Dr. Roussel trained as an intern and resident in Internal Medicine specializing in Primary Care through Harvard Medical School at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 2013-2016. Dr. Roussel is very passionate about service through excellent and ethical patient care. In 2010, he was a member of the inaugural medical cohort for Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) through the Museum of Jewish Heritage. There he studied medical ethics through the lenses of the Holocaust. Dr. Roussel serves as an Adjunct Professor at Franciscan University in Baton Rouge, where he teaches graduate-level bioethics. When he is not practicing medicine, Dr. Roussel enjoys his involvement as a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, writing, and hiking. He is married to his college sweetheart Amanda and has two young children.

St. Francis of Assisi Supportive Care, LLC, Colorado

Deacon Alan Rastrelli, MD, of St. Francis of Assisi Supportive Care, LLC, Colorado, is a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Catholic Medical Association. Dr. Rastrelli received a BS degree from St Mary’s University in San Antonio, and his MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. He completed a 4 year Residency in Anesthesia at Brooke Army Medical Center and is Board certified. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Rastrelli gradually transitioned from Anesthesia into the field of Hospice and Palliative medicine, and was board certified. He was voted one of Denver magazine’s 5280 Top Physicians in Hospice and Palliative Medicine five times from 2008-2012. In 2005 he was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of Denver. Dr. Rastrelli has given over 40 presentations to many groups on end of life care and the eternal ends of life. He has spoken out vigorously against physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, including testimonies before the State legislature and in multiple media interviews, and continues the fight against it though it was passed by the voters in Colorado.

Professor of Spiritual Theology, Notre Dame Seminary

Dr. Thomas J. Neal is originally from Providence, Rhode Island. He received his B.A. in Philosophy (’90) and M.A. in Systematic Theology (’96) from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and wrote his Thesis on the theology of grace in the works of eastern bishop-theologian Gregory Palamas. He pursued his Ph.D in Florida State University’s department of Religion, specializing in the evolution of Christian mysticism in early-late medieval Europe. He wrote and successfully defended his dissertation (’08) on the question of identity construction in the Carmelite reform in the writings of St. John of the Cross. Dr. Neal has spent most of the last 17 years serving the catechetical mission of the Church in Florida, serving in various administrative roles, most recently in Des Moines, Iowa where he served as Director of the St. Joseph Educational Center. He taught undergrad courses for six years at FSU in the history of the Christian theological tradition, and served as assistant editor for the Journal of Religious Ethics. He has led hundreds of retreats, workshops and catechetical events throughout the country and is an active blogger. He was involved in seminarian and deacon formation programs in Florida and Iowa. Dr. Neal serves as Professor of Spiritual Theology at Notre Dame Seminary. He also served as Director of the MA programs and Institute for Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Academic Dean, and the Director of Spiritual Formation. Dr. Neal and his family live in the New Orleans area.


Stephen L. Mikochik is a professor emeritus at Temple Law School in Philadelphia where he taught Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence for over thirty years. Before joining the Temple faculty, he was an expert on disability law with the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice. For several years, he chaired the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, established four decades ago to implement the 1978 Pastoral Statement on People with Disabilities of the U.S. Catholic bishops. He has published extensively on the civil rights of disabled people, focusing particularly on current threats to their right to life. His courses at Ave Maria School of Law examine constitutional theory in light of Catholic moral teaching.

Executive Director, St. Philip Institute of Evangelization and Catechesis

Stacy A. Trasancos, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization founded by Bishop Joseph Strickland in the Diocese of Tyler, TX. She is a Fellow for the Word on Fire Institute and an international speaker for Catholic Answers. Dr. Trasancos received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University and her M.A. in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Dr. Trasancos has published several books on the intersection of theology and science and teaches online courses on the subject at Seton Hall University. She has also published a booklet, "20 Answers: Bioethics", and writes a science column for the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly.



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 Paull 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(s)™ 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 medical interventions that may currently be made on behalf of some populations that experience disability.
▪ Identify case presentation that offer practical examples of medical and pastoral care and support.
▪ Describe how medical professionals may navigate difficult conversations with medical, social and ethical
▪ Discuss the basis for the sanctity and worth of human life.
▪ Discuss the virtues of hope and compassion.
▪ Describe how medical professionals can be a compassionate presence and foster hope in disabled patients and their families.
▪ Identify how the dignity of persons who are disabled impacts medical care.
▪ Discuss the medical/ethical notion of quality of life.
▪ Describe to what degree disabilities have an impact on 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.
▪ Explore the risks posed to disabled patients as a result of the cultural acceptance of suicide.
▪ Consider the impact of abortion on the disabled.
▪ Review the legal and ethics regulations and norms related to the care of disabled patients at the beginning of life and end of life.

▪ Discuss established Church teaching including the Ethical and Religious Directives on providing food and water to patients.
▪ Suggest medical care commensurate with the condition of the patient.
▪ Discuss the role of communication and spiritual care offered to families of such patients
▪ Analyze two cases regarding ethical course of action in light of the principles articulated and the medical condition of the patient.
▪ Describe the methods currently available to help patients avoid disability in their children.
▪ Consider the ethical implications for medical interventions that prevent, alleviate or cure disability,
▪ Propose an approach that can be taken by medical professionals to help their patients make the best decisions for the current and future children.
▪ Identify the unique qualities of a medical practice that upholds human dignity.
▪ List practical guidance for creating a patient-centric culture.
▪ Discuss the role a hospital has in creating a culture that grapples with and gives meaning to suffering experienced
by patients.

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 sara@forlifeandfamily.org.

Social Workers
This program has been approved for 3 hours of social work ethics and 4 general contact 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 sara@forlifeandfamily.org.


Notre Dame Seminary

2901 S Carrollton Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118

For More Information:
Sara Dietz, Conference Coordinator
[email protected]





    1177 W Loop South, Ste. 940
    Houston, TX 77027


    P.O. Box 5927
    Katy, TX 77491