CPN | Does spirituality and/or religion help?


Does spirituality and/or religion help?

November 7, 2022, 8:00 PM ET

Watch an archived recording of this event

Virtually any crisis, including and perhaps especially that of having a child with a serious illness, stirs up many kinds of questions. Some parents coping with their child’s illness find themselves in a crisis of faith, striving to understand why the illness has occurred and what can be done to change the circumstances–to make things “right.” Others find that their faith is strengthened as they invest trust in something outside their control; they may even feel that they are being tested and must respond in faith. Some who have never had a faith system seek one; others reject their faith out of fear, anger, or despair. There is no one way to experience the spiritual.

Please join two spiritual care professionals and a parent panel to delve into how spiritual and/or religious practices inform parental advocacy, decision-making and coping.

Our Panel

Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, MD, MDiv Swartz Resident Practitioner in Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School Co-Pastor, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Boston Ma

Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D. is Co-Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Boston, MA, and the Swartz Resident Practitioner in Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). Dr. White-Hammond served as a pediatrician at the South End Community Health Center from 1981-2008. From 2001 through 2003, Dr. White-Hammond traveled to war-torn South Sudan to participate in an elaborate “underground railroad” to facilitate the freedom of more than 10,000 people enslaved in northern Sudan during the civil war. The experience prompted her and five other women to co-found My Sister’s Keeper www.mskeeper.org , a humanitarian and human rights organization that champions social justice for women and girls in conflict zones. Rev. Gloria White-Hammond serves alongside her husband, Rev. Ray A. Hammond, MD, to pastor Bethel’s 500-member congregation. Her innovative ministries include Shatter the Silence, which addresses sexual victimization of women and men in predominantly African American communities and Planning Ahead, which encourages church members to begin conversations and complete their advance directives regarding their wishes for end-of-life care. Dr. White-Hammond was appointed Swartz Resident Practitioner in Ministry Studies in 2015 where she develops learning opportunities for students to explore the intersection of the practice of medicine, spiritual care, and public health. She co-directs the Harvard Medical School and HDS course, “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.”

Rev. Michele Torres, MA, LMHC, MDiv, BCC Bilingual Chaplain

An Episcopal Priest, Michele Torres has been working as a pediatric hospital chaplain at Boston Children’s Hospital since September 2009. Michele has Mexican-American heritage and is bilingual in English and Spanish. She visits with Spanish speaking patients and families throughout the hospital with a focus on chronic and medically complex patients. Michele and her wife have two sons, Mateo and Johnny. Mateo (15) was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms at five months old and meets criteria for Lennox Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). Michele is actively involved with the LGS Foundation and serves as an Ambassador and Navigator for other parents.

Kara Ayik

Kara Ayik is mother to Evren who has Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency (ASMD), and Evren's younger brother Erol. In addition to being Evren's co-author of the children's book, Extraordinary! A Book for Children with Rare Diseases, Kara has shared her reflections on raising a child with a rare and progressive genetic disease with family support organizations and other professional and civic groups across the country including the FDA and the Global Liver Institute. She has also written blogs for Rare Revolution magazine's multi-media channels. Her varied interests include health literacy, environmental conservation, cultural and linguistic diversity, and native flowers and hummingbirds.

Marilia Rivera

Marilia has more than 17 years as a Registered Nurse (Neonatal and Pediatric Expert) and 11 years as a Nursing Professor focused on Maternal, Neonatal, Pediatrics and Nutrition. In 2009 she completed a Master of Science in Nursing with Educational Role in Maternal Neonatal. Marilia was recognized in 2009 as Nurse of the Year - Pediatric Intensive Care in Puerto Rico and in 2017 as Distinguished Professor of the NUC University Nursing Program. Marilia has a passion and continues to honor her son Diego and his legacy to educate and support other parents through a complex childhood illness and/or end of life process. In 2021 Marilia completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a research project to improve pediatric nurses' knowledge of palliative care services. She is a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association. Marilia is a committee member of the Florida Pediatric Palliative Care Council. She is a proud founding member of the VolunPeer Program at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Bereavement. Marilia currently collaborates to publish online resources on pediatric palliative care, death, dying, and bereavement.