“IT’S ALWAYS TOO EARLY, UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE”Quote from Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist
The goal of the Gift of Peace ministry is to provide information, guidance, and support for our parishioners and their loved ones so that wishes for end-of-life care may be expressed and respected. End-of-life planning can be a true gift to yourself and to your loved ones. It offers an opportunity for the meaningful sharing of hopes and expectations for the future, as well as feelings and values about both life and death.
This ministry is part of a worldwide campaign to transform the dying part of human experience. It provides parishioners with the tools, guidance, and resources of The Conversation Project, an initiative that began in 2010 to help individuals begin talking about dying with their loved ones and what they want at the end of their life.
St. John’s has partnered with the Horizon Foundation and other groups in Howard County to teach residents about The Conversation Project and encourage them to have “The Conversation” with a small group or their family. A public campaign known as Speak(easy) Howard encourages residents to think through their preferences for care, talk about them with loved ones, and name a Health Care Agent, the person you choose to make medical decisions if you can’t.
Our parish offers a variety of resources, including videos, workbooks and other materials, sample documents, workshops, and special events, to help parishioners have “The Conversation.” We encourage parishioners in all life stages to explore the Gift of Peace Ministry resources and reach out to our Ministry Team for assistance at GiftOfPeace@sjerc.org.
- The Conversation Workshop Overview
- Speaker Videos
- Important End-of-Life Documents
- Catholic Guidance
- Additional Resources
- Contact our ministry team
The Conversation Workshop Overview
What is the Conversation Workshop? Listen to the founder of The Conversation Project, Ellen Goodman, and her passion to get people talking about their end-of-life wishes.
The Conversation Project
The Conversation Project: An Overview
The Conversation ProjectEllen Goodman | TEDxBoston (12 min)
The Conversation Project: An OverviewCo-founder and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist gives an overview on The Conversation Project and why it is so vitally important. (5 min)
- Do your research and get information here: speakeasyhoward.org and theconversationproject.org
- Use our Parish Conversation Workshop Presentation Video to guide your conversation preparation. You can also check out a copy of the video from the Interfaith Library at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.
- Workbooks to guide your conversation are currently available through our Ministry Team, or can be downloaded from the Speak(easy) website.
- If you prefer assistance, send a request to Audrey Marsh to have one of our experienced team members guide your small group or family gathering through the presentation of the workshop.
Videos of our panel discussions and expert speakers are available in the Wilde Lake Interfaith Library on Sunday mornings. We are now able to offer online versions of these presentations.
The following is a list of speakers who made presentations to our parish community on topics that enable the conversations with loved ones, teach the specifics of documentation required to fulfill those wishes as well as protect our families, and the celebrations that support our families after death.
Panel on “The Documentation”
Panel on "The Celebration"
Catholic rite of funerals
Funeral and burial planning
Estate and wills in Maryland
Pre-planning for dementia and long-term disability
Care planning for patients with diseases
Being Mortal discussion
Panel on “The Documentation”Russell R. DeLuca, Chesapeake Oncology-Hematology Associates, P.A.; Shannon L. Hammond, Esq., Hammond Law, LLC; and Rev. Gerard Bowen, Pastor, St. John the Evangelist RC Church, Columbia, MD. An expert panel on “The Documentation” consisting of a doctor, lawyer, hospice representative, and priest discusses medical, legal, and spiritual considerations that factor into end-of-life conversations/decisions. (Length: 2:06:51)
Panel on "The Celebration"Fr. Gerard Bowen, St. John the Evangelist RC Church, Columbia, MD; Eileen May Kiefer, St. John the Evangelist RC Church, Columbia, MD; Linda M. Witzke-Lewis, Harry W. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home; and Lisa Stone, Stella Maris, Inc. . An expert panel on "The Celebration" consisting of a priest, resurrection ministry representative, funeral home representative, and hospice representative discusses funerals, burials and spiritual planning that factor into end-of-life conversations/decisions. (Length: 1:48:53)
Advanced DirectiveLeslie Rogers, Director of Patient Support Services, Howard County General Hospital with Tiffany Callender, Senior Program Officer, Horizon Foundation. Provides a tutorial on the importance of the Advanced Directive and how to prepare one. (Length: 1:13:59)
Catholic rite of funeralsFr. Gerard Bowen, St. John the Evangelist RC Church, Columbia, MD. Facilitates a discussion on Catholic funerals, including the most commonly asked questions. (January 20, 2019)
Burial PlanningLeslie Wise, Columbia Memorial Park. Covers additional information about cemeteries, cremation, burials and associated documentation. (Length: 1:55:10)
Funeral and burial planningPatrick Thompson, Slack Funeral Home, P.A. Presents funeral- and burial-planning options. February 17, 2019 (Length: 1:08:51)
Estate and wills in Maryland• Byron Macfarlane, Register of Wills, Howard County. Discusses the do’s and don’ts of financial planning, including how to protect your assets for family members. (Length: 1:14:36)
Pre-planning for dementia and long-term disabilityShannon L. Hammond, Esq.,Hammond Law, LLC. Discusses pre-planning for dementia and disability, including long-term care and asset-protection basics. (Length: 1:16:57)
Care planning for patients with diseasesAnthony Riley, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Gilchrist; and founding Medical Director of Gilchrest Hospice Care; Division Head of Geriatric Services, Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Explains how to navigate your medical journey, specifically care planning for patients with diseases of the brain and nervous system. (Length: 2:12:20)
Avoiding probateShannon L. Hammond, Esq., Hammond Law, LLC with Dario Cavazos, CFP®, AAMS®, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones. Explains how to avoid probate through effective estate planning/beneficiary designations. (Length: 1:27:24)
Being Mortal discussionFrontline’s “Being Mortal” Documentary was presented on 10-07-2018 (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/being-mortal/). This video is the discussion that followed that presentation. (Length: 1:04:01)
Important End-of-Life Documents
Beyond our familiarity with the “Last Will and Testament” – the document that tells family and friends what to do with our estate – there are other documents that protect our wishes before we die, when we can’t speak for ourselves. This list describes what they are and how to make sure they are accessible by your Health Agent, family members, doctors, hospitals and/or care facilities.
These documents include, at a minimum:
- Designation of Health Care Agent – Your Health Care Agent is the person you choose to speak for you, when you cannot speak for yourself (Accident, Dementia, Stroke, Heart Attack….) Remember, you need to share your wishes with your Health Care Agent and have a conversation about specifics. Ask them if they can follow your wishes.
- Advanced Directive – An advance directive allows you to decide who you want to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. You can also use it to say what kinds of treatments you do or don’t want, especially the treatments often used in a medical emergency or near the end of a person’s life. It is not required to be prepared by a lawyer, but can be.
- MyDirectives.com is sponsored by Horizon Foundation and the State of Maryland. This is an online repository where you can create a Universal Advanced Directive and/or upload existing documents that your doctor should be able to locate immediately.
- The State of Maryland Attorney General’s Office also has Advanced Directive forms available. for download
- Wallet card – If you’ve made an advance directive, you should consider carrying a wallet card saying so.
- The Office of the Attorney General has developed a wallet card for your use. This card alerts healthcare workers that you have an advance directive and provides contact names and numbers. Simply print, then fill out the card and carry it in your wallet.
- The American Hospital Association also makes a “Put It In Writing” wallet card available through their website.
- MOLST – Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment: Maryland MOLST is a portable and enduring medical order form covering options for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatments. The medical orders are based on a patient’s wishes about medical treatments. Bottom line: This is the document paramedics want to see immediately. See the instructional video (Length 34:55) provided by one of our ministry members.
The Archdiocese primary site for End of Life issues is called “In Joyful Hope”. This site has been developed over many years and is a wealth of information. Much of that information dovetails with what you will find on our site or supplements it. We always recommend getting information from all pertinent sites to determine what you need, and what is your personal fit from all the options provided.
Another resource is the Maryland Catholic Conference. There is a wealth of information on their site, including about Physician Assisted Suicide. Download two of their publications: Comfort and Consolation and Health Care Directives: A Catholic Perspective.
- SPEAK(easy) Howard County – The Howard County initiative that encourages residents to have a conversation about end-of-life care wishes and to name a health care agent who can communicate these wishes. The Horizon Foundation is leading the campaign along with many community partners.
- The Horizon Foundation of Howard County – Leading Community Change: so everyone in Howard can live longer, better lives.
- The Conversation Project – A national initiative dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end of live care.
- Archdiocese of Baltimore website on end-of-life guidance
- Five Wishes – An alternative to the formal Advanced Directive
- Book: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (2014) (N.Y.Times #1 Bestseller) and….. Being Mortal Documentary
- Book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016) (N.Y. Times Best Selling Memoir) A young neurosurgeon, facing end-of-life decisions, searches for the meaning and purpose of life.
- “Extremis” – A 25 minute Academy Award nominated documentary about end-of-life challenges in a hospital Intensive Care Unit. Full version available only on Netflix. (a short trailer available on YouTube)
- MyDirectives – Upload your Documents and make them accessible to not just medical providers, but hour health agent and family of your choice. There is also a mobile app available.
- The Bishops of Maryland have revised and reissued their seminal 2007 pastoral letter, Comfort and Consolation – Care of the Sick and Dying, to help parishioners begin conversations with loved ones on end-of-life issues and to re-focus attention on foundational principles of the Church’s approach to the care of the sick and dying.
- Maryland Attorney General – Making Medical Decisions For Someone Else and Advance Directive Form for State of MD
- Maryland MOLST is a portable and enduring medical order form covering options for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatments. The medical orders are based on a patient’s wishes about medical treatments.
- Catholic Declaration for Health Care Decision Making (an accompaniment to the MOLST) – Form can be found at the end of the legal supplement to Comfort and Consolation
- Resurrection Booklet for Funeral Planning at St. John’s
The Gift of Peace Ministry is excited to offer one Conference event this year. Based on feedback from previous participants, this will be a mix of returning presenters (by popular demand) and some new presenters who’ve received rave reviews at partner events. This is a conference for those new to the Gift of Peace workshop and materials, as well as returning attendees who said: “Now that we have had time to reflect on the information in this program, we would like an opportunity to come back and ask more questions.”
CANCELLED – To be rescheduled in the Fall
“All’s Well That Ends Well”
March 28, 2020
Wilde Lake Interfaith Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Additionally, see events provided by our partners in the Speak(easy) Howard Campaign
Contact our Ministry Team
We encourage parishioners in all life stages to explore the Gift of Peace Ministry resources and reach out to our Ministry Team for assistance at GiftOfPeace@sjerc.org.