Gift of Peace Ministry

“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

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.

Speaker Videos

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. 

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:

  1. 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. 
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Catholic Guidance

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.

Additional Resources

  • 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 
  • BookBeing 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

Events

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.

  • Audrey Marsh               GiftOfPeace@sjerc.org             410-381-2679
  • Joe Schaefer                 schaef6@verizon.net                       410-531-2250
  • Eileen Kiefer                  eileenmaykiefer@gmail.com           410-740-0673
  • Maureen Kelley             maureen6392@gmail.com               443 812 9463
  • Cathy Spain                   cathyspain@verizon.net                   443-538-1201