Taking Comfort in the Uncomfortable:

Conversations about End-of-Life

May 21, 2016 | 9:00 am – 2:30 pm

Important end-of-life issues, such as “death with dignity”, hospice care, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, will be presented and examined within the framework necessary for moral decision-making. We will examine how society’s demoralized laws and court decisions challenge us to live out our Catholic faith more than ever. We examine the responsibility of each person to understand the morality of end-of-life issues and how we are called to respond as faithful Catholics.

CD Presentation Order Form


9:00 am – 9:45 am

Father Robert Spitzer, S.J.
Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.

Basic Principles of Ethics: How the Philosophical Underpinnings of End-of-Life Issues Determine Our Happiness and the Common Good

Ten universal principles form the foundation of civility, justice, and objectivity in cultures throughout the world. Their presence assures the possibility of humane civilization and their absence opens the path for corruption, deceit, injustice, and cultural decline. In this conference, Father Robert will help illumine the path of ethical medical practices in regards to the end-of-life issue.

Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.

Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, philosopher, physicist, educator, author, speaker, and retired President of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Spitzer is founder and currently active as President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith (www.magiscenter.com), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing educational materials on the complementarity of science, philosophy, and faith. He is also President of the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership (www.spitzercenter.org), dedicated to helping Catholic and for-profit organizations develop leadership, constructive cultures, and virtue ethics.

9:50 am – 10:25 am

Dr. Christopher Kaczor
Dr. Christopher Kaczor

Death with Dignity: The Big Lie

With the passing of ABx2-15, the “physician-assisted suicide bill” signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown Oct. 5, 2015, making California became the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Is killing at the end of life a good idea? What’s the truth about compassionate care-giving at end-of-life? How can we as faithful Catholics see to it that our loved ones are given the right assistance needed to prepare them for the end of their pilgrim journey?

Dr. Christopher Kaczor

Dr. Christopher Kaczor is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and is in the James Madison Society of Princeton University. He graduated from the Honors Program of Boston College and earned a Ph.D. four years later from the University of Notre Dame. A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Kaczor is a former Federal Chancellor Fellow at the University of Cologne and William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. Some of his books include A Defense of Dignity, The Ethics of Abortion, Life Issues-Medical Choices; Thomas Aquinas on Faith, Hope, and Love; The Edge of Life, and Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition.

10:45 am – 11:20 am

Dr. Cristen Krebs
Dr. Cristen Krebs

Caring for the Voiceless and Vulnerable: How to Cope with the Changing Face of Healthcare for Hospice Patients

In our current time, there have been many changes that have developed in the delivery of end-of-life care. Many of these changes have proven to be harmful toward patients experiencing life-limiting illness. Following the advent of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, the growth of the national for-profit hospice industry has forever challenged the exchange of intimate, quality, hands-on bedside care for profit to shareholders, patient “quotas,” aggressive marketing tactics and productivity ratios. Words and ideas that make a mockery of the human suffering many patients experience when told their condition is terminal. Dr. Krebs will discuss her passion for caring for this voiceless and vulnerable population, and will share ways in which we can approach this most sacred time of life with greater awareness and care.

Dr. Cristen Krebs

Dr. Cristen M. Krebs, DNP, ANP-BC, Catholic Hospice Founder / Executive Director, is a graduate of Robert Morris University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program with twenty years of end-of-life care experience. After several years in the field of hospice nursing, Dr. Krebs became disheartened with the trend of hospices becoming more business oriented than patient focused. Concerned that direct patient care was being compromised, in 1997, Dr. Krebs began the first faith-based, nonprofit hospice program serving Pittsburgh and surrounding counties. In May 2007, she incorporated Catholic Hospice, the only pro-life, non-profit hospice in Pittsburgh, embracing the end of life teachings of Pope John Paul II.

11:25 am – 12:00 pm

Dr. Vincent Nguyen
Dr. Vincent Nguyen

Legal Assisted Suicide: Thou Shall Not Kill? But Really, How Important is the Fifth Commandment?

We all know the commandment, ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’. But it is as simple as that? What if the person, has some terminal illness that they will surely die from, and are in considerable amounts of pain? We will discuss what Legal Assisted Suicide really is, and how it has gained acceptance and support in our current culture.

Dr. Vincent Nguyen

Dr. Vincent Nguyen, is a Board Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Specialist with Board Certifications in Geriatrics and Family Medicine. He earned his Medical Degree from Western University of Health Sciences in 1992. Currently, he is the Director of the HOAG CARES Program and in this role provides direct medical care as well as oversight of the inpatient and outpatient palliative clinical services at HOAG hospitals. Prior to his current role, he served as Medical Director of a national hospice agency in the Los Angeles and Orange County area for 12 years before joining MONARCH HealthCare as Medical Director of Geriatrics and Palliative Care Services for over 5 years. Over his career, he built a nationally recognized post-acute service in the Skilled Nursing Facility settings, and implemented Fellowship training programs for post-graduate and mid-career Physicians the art of Hospice and Palliative Medicine through UC Irvine. He has lectured, published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine and co-authored several chapters in 2 books on End-of Life issues published by the McGraw-Hill Companies.

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch Break

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Questions for the Panel