At Eternity's Gates: Christian Faith and Medical Decisions at End-of-life

In the US, most people die under the care of the medical system, often in hospitals or extended care settings. What steps can you take to ensure that your treatment preferences are followed? How might one’s Christianity impact the medical decisions you make for yourself or others at the end of life? During this interactive seminar, we’ll discuss these issues and more, with an emphasis on faith-based decision making.


Kathy Faber-Langendoen is a physician (oncologist), bioethicist, and one of the Center’s spiritual directors.She chairs the SUNY Upstate medical school’s department of bioethics and humanities, and is the past director of the Upstate Ethics Consultation Service.

What is Spiritual Direction? An Introduction for the Deaf community

Presented by Conchetta LoPresti, OSF, MEd, on Thursday, October 10, from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Spiritual direction involves being a companion to another as they grow closer to God in prayer. Of course, it is more helpful if your companion speaks the same language. In this interactive session, Sister Conchetta LoPresti will explore with us what spiritual direction looks like in American Sign Language. 


Sister Conchetta is from the Franciscan community and has worked in education of children with multiple disabilities. She is the Coordinator of Deaf Ministry for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

Celts and Their Unique Use of Scripture

Early Celtic Christians’ perspectives on the Bible were far less literal than many modern viewpoints. For them, Scripture was a treasure trove of metaphor and meaning, stories and symbols, all pointing to the Loving Divinity that pervades all of reality.  Spend an evening looking again at some beloved stories from the Scriptures as if for the first time.


Dan is a Catholic priest and chaplain of the Catholic communities at Cornell University and Ithaca College. 

Seeing the World Through Rinsed Eyes: Irish Hermit Poetry, Thomas Merton and You

Dr. Weis invites us to llook at some early Irish hermit poetry scribbled on sacred manuscripts. Thomas Merton was fascinated with these "graffiti" and their shared vision of a deepening relationship to God, kinship with animals, and the solace of the hermit life. In the second part of the evening, Dr. Weis talks about how to pray with Merton's own poetry: overcoming fear of poetry and seeing the poetic lines with new eyes that invite a deeper encounter with the Divine. 

Finding the Sky Within You: Lessons from Thomas Merton

Dr. Monica Weis, SSJ begins with an overview of Thomas Merton’s life, explores how nature influenced Merton’s prayer and spirituality, including quotes from his journals. Dr. Weis examines Merton’s commitment to solitude, his fascination with St. Brendan’s Voyage, and his challenge to us to value solitude as part of our own spiritual journey. 

Dr. Monica Weis SSJ, professor emerita of English, taught at Nazareth College in Rochester and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Hungary. She is a frequent national and international presenter on Thomas Merton and author of Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005), The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton (2011) and Thomas Merton and the Celts (2016).

Dreamwork As Spiritual Practice

Throughout the Scriptures and our Christian Tradition dreams have offered guidance to those seeking a deeper relationship with God.  Dreams have also been a key source of spiritual discernment as people have struggled to understand God’s will for them.  This presentation will briefly explore the role of dreams in the tradition and provide some practical starting points for incorporating dreamwork into your spiritual life.

Steve Moore is the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marcellus and a licensed psychologist at Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse. He trained in spiritual direction at the Haden Institute/Mt. Carmel Spiritual Center in Niagara Falls and Loyola House in Guelph. Rev.Dr. Moore also studied dreamwork at as part of his spiritual director training at the Haden Institute, and has done additional study at the Assisi Institute, the Jung Institute in San Francisco, and while in graduate school for clinical psychology.

Human Suffering & the God of Love

Nothing is more common to the human experience than suffering. And, nothing is more challenging to faith than tragic suffering. In this evening of renewal, the Rev. Dr. Mark Lawson will explore how Christian leaders have sought to reconcile belief in an all-loving God with the reality of suffering, and how to find hope in the midst of suffering.


Mark holds a Ph.D. in New Testament, and is the pastor of Bayberry United Church of Christ, a staff spiritual director here at the Spiritual Renewal Center, and an adjunct faculty member in the theology department at Le Moyne College.

Tree of Life: Living the New Creation

Ancient Christian artists frequently depicted the Cross of Christ as a life-giving tree, growing amid a new creation. Liturgies of eastern Christian churches equate the Cross to the Tree of Life described in the book of Genesis. Such imagery and such forms of worship invite reflection. What is Christian spirituality like when the theme of a New Creation is its principal idea, and a living Cross its symbol? Can these images from long ago and far away be revived, and resonate for modern Christians? 

The first hour will demonstrate how widespread Living Tree imagery once was, and revel in its Bible-based iconography. Early crosses from Scotland to China will be shown and deciphered.

The second hour will highlight the significance of this imagery for the every-day life and prayer of Christian believers today.


Our presenter is Rev. Donnel O’Flynn, retired Episcopal priest who most recently served as rector here in central New York. He is the author of the recently published book Holy Cross, Life-Giving Tree.

Spirituality & Embodiment

How does Being a Body Matter? How does being a body matter for Christians? For much of Christian history, committed disciples of Jesus have had a rather ambiguous relationship with their bodies. Are our bodies enemies of our spiritual lives? Are they tools for us to do good works? Or are there other ways to understand our bodies more faithfully as God would intend in light of the Scriptural revelation?


Meditating first on the life of Jesus, we will consider together the gifts and challenges of what it means to be human bodies. We will consider insights of Scripture, Christian tradition, contemporary findings in medicine and neuroscience, and our own experiences. Together, we will explore what it would mean to live with an increased awareness of our bodies as gifts of God to us and to this world he so loves.

And The Soul Felt Its Worth: An Evening of Christmas Poetry

The Christmas season offers Christians an invaluable opportunity to behold the awesome mysteries at the heart of the faith. Poets old and new alike have attempted to shed light on these mysteries through the power of their words. 

Spiritual Geography of St. Teresa of Avila & St. John of the Cross

Dr. Cristobal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes, associate professor at Valdosta University and internationally known scholar of the Spanish mystics and Thomas Merton. In this lecture, Cristobal will reflect on the inner and outer spiritual geographies of the Spanish Carmelite mystics. 

An Awakening of Faith: We Are Born of Stardust

As one approach to discussing the interaction of science with religious beliefs and eventually with Ignatian spirituality, I will present the current scientific understanding of the universe and the evolution of life within it. The universe is 13.8 billion years old and it contains about 100 billion galaxies each of which contains on the average 200 billion stars of an immense variety. As these stars live and die they provide the chemicals necessary for the evolution of life. We came to be in this universe. We are born of stardust!


Our religious faith leads us to ask a further question. Did we come about by chance or by necessity? There is a third element here that is very important. It is what we might call the "fertility" of the universe. In this light I am going to present in broad strokes what I think is some of the best of our modern scientific understanding of the universe and of the evolution of life.


Did God do it? In my attempt to answer this question I will then reflect on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spirituality of “finding God in all things.” Furthermore, as contemplatives in action and born of the stuff of the universe, we are co-creators with God in the future of the universe.

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1342 Lancaster Avenue    Syracuse, New York 13210    315.472.6546

Hours of operation: M-T-W 9-5, Thursday 9-6, Friday 9-4 (September-June)

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