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Living the Journey: Spirituality for the Second Half of Life

CONFERENCE

April 10, 2010

Presenters: Jenny Chin Hansen, president AARP; John J. Shea, O.S.A., STM professor of pastoral care and counseling; Rev. Michael J. Himes, professor of theology, Boston College Theology Department; Michael St. Clair, professor of psychology, Emmanuel College; and Myles Sheehan, S.J., M.D., New England Provincial, Society of Jesus

This day-long conference featured experts from the fields of theology, ministry, and health, focusing on the different spiritual challenges that women and men encounter as they move into the second half of life, and the unique resources faith offers to make this a time of deep purpose.

Hosted by the Boston College Alumni Association, the Church in the 21st Century Center, the School of Theology and Ministry, the University Institute on Aging, and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work.  Co-sponsored by the Connell School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Social Work and generously supported by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Video Presentations

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Video Descriptions

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Aging in America: Living, Learning, and Legacy

Presenter: Jennie Chin Hansen, Boston College Class of 1970 and the first boomer president of AARP

This keynote explores the varied landscape of aging in America, sharing stories of people in the second half of life who have been inspired to do great things and to live their lives to the fullest, while balancing work, play, learning, and spirituality.

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Spirituality and God: Midlife and Beyond

Presenter: John J. Shea, O.S.A., professor of the practice of pastoral care and counseling

This keynote offers reflections on who we are as adults as we travel through the stages of aging, as well as the human experiences associated with midlife and growing older. Fr. Shea raises some of the challenges we face and the rewards that are possible in finding spiritual meaning and a "living God" who calls us forward into the second half of life. Read John Shea's PowerPoint slides here.

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Reflections on the Journey

Presenter: Rev. Michael J. Himes, professor of theology, Boston College Theology Department, and priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY

In his closing talk, Fr. Himes offers an opportunity to begin to synthesize all the topics discussed during the conference and to move forward in the journey of aging in a positive way. 

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Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities in Midlife and Beyond

Presenter: Michael St. Clair, professor of psychology, Emmanuel College

This presentation outlines some of the current changes we all face in American culture, thereby enabling us to develop techniques for dealing not only with external change, but also with physical and mental change.

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The Growth of Aging Research and Education at Boston College

Presenter: James Lubben, director of the University Institute on Aging, Boston College

This presentation discusses the growth of aging research and education at BC.

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End of Life Issues: Spirituality and Aging

Presenter: Myles N. Sheehan, S.J., provincial, New England Province of the Society of Jesus, and a physician specializing in geriatric medicine

This presentation uses the example of Catholic spirituality and faith to discuss the ways spirituality affects an approach to aging, decisions about health care, and considerations about the end of life.

Print Resources

Vices and Virtues of Old Age Retirement
Edward Collins Vacek, S.J.
Fr. Vacek addresses the challenges of retirement beyond the idea of "extended vacation."  He embraces the idea of a fulfilling and active retirement, framing old age as more than a sedentary lifestyle.  This presentation addresses the new challenges retirees face as life expectancy and the number of people in old age increases, and how retirement can be an active experience. 

Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities in Midlife and Beyond
Michael St. Clair '64, M.A.'65, Ph.D.
This presentation outlines some of the current changes we all face in modern American culture. When we add the normal life changes that come with midlife and old age, the pace and extent of change can cause apprehension and anxiety. Knowing what some of the changes are can enable us to develop techniques for dealing not only with external change, but also with physical and mental change.

Embracing Loss: Healing Grief with Grace and Hope
Pamela Prime, '63, M.A.
It appears that the more we are blessed with life, the more opportunities we have to grieve. When we grieve freely with courage and hope, grief has the capacity to open our hearts to deeper experiences of love and ultimately to the discovery of God's immanent presence.