Journey to Healing: Faith and Loss in a Diverse World

Nov 8, 2014
12:30 pm
D’Angelo Center, 4th Floor
Open to Public
Registration Required
November 8, 2014 12:30 pm

Third Annual Bereavement Conference for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens

A conference for persons who are grieving and those who accompany others on their journey to healing. 

Join parish bereavement groups and their facilitators, priests, deacons, pastoral associates, teachers, religious educators, campus ministers, students, friends and families, as we embrace the diversity of the Diocese of Brooklyn-Queens and its cultures to:

  • Explore the connections of spirituality and grief
  • Help persons who are grieving and those who accompany them on their journey to understand grief and the process of grieving within a theological and cultural context.  
  • Create an opportunity of professional development for facilitators of Parish Bereavement Programs, deacons, pastoral ministers and educators, and campus ministers

Saturday, November 8, 2014
St. John’s University, D’Angelo Center 4th floor
8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY 11439

Schedule of the Day

12:30-1 p.m.

1 -1:15 p.m.
Welcome and Opening Prayer

1:15- 2:15 p.m.
Keynote Session

2:15-2:25 p.m.

2:30-3:25 p.m.
Workshop Session I

3:30-4:25 p.m.
Workshop Session II

4:30-4:45 p.m.
Evaluation/Closing remarks

5 p.m.
Liturgy (St. Thomas More Church)
Celebrant: Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn

Registration and Fees

Download the form »

Early Bird Rate

  • $30.00 per person, Early Bird (postmarked by Oct. 15)          
  • $25.00 (3 or more from same organization postmarked by Oct. 15)

Regular Rate

  • $45.00 per person (postmarked after Oct. 15 including walk-ins)
  • $40.00 (3 or more from same organization postmarked after Oct. 15)

Student rate

  • $10.00 


Michael D. Whalen, C.M. is a Vincentian priest and associate professor of theology at St. John’s University, New York where he teaches courses in liturgy, sacramental theology, and pastoral studies.  His major monographs include Seasons and Feasts of the Church Year: An Introduction and Method in Liturgical Catechesis.  A former Director of a Diocesan Office of Worship, he has also published articles in journals such as Worship and The Living Light.  He holds an S.T.D. in Historical Theology and an S.T.L. in Liturgical Studies from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. as well as graduate degrees in catechesis, systematic theology, and pastoral studies.   


There are ten workshops repeated twice. Each participant will attend two workshops.

1) Narratives of Grief Among Latinos Living in the Us
Several factors can present challenges to those providing help to the grieving individual.  This workshop will focus on the specific aspect of the narrative of Latinos living in the US with emphasis on the experience of immigration and the understanding of key cultural values.

Carmen I. Vazquez, Ph.D. ABPP, a Board Certified clinical and forensic clinical psychologist was born in the Dominican Republic.  For over 25 years she has dedicated her clinical work, research, teaching and writing to helping people cope with the challenges of multicultural living.  Her latest book, Grief Therapy with Latinos is a graduate textbook and clinical reference book for understanding and treating grief in the context of Latino Culture. 

2) Hispanic Religious Practices and Grieving
Latinas/os are deeply religious, and their way of experiencing God and life, as well as loss, is often different from that of the U.S. mainstream culture.  Through stories and reflection, we will explore death, dying and grieving.  We will pause to consider ways faith communities and religious educators can accompany families in embracing the gift of life and finding hope in the midst of loss.

Valerie Torres, Ph.D., graduated from and teaches at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Fordham University.  She designed and implemented the online course “Hispanic Family Ministry and Catechesis,” and authored “Familias en La Lucha: The Religious Education Journey of Hispanic Families in New York City.”  Born and raised in New York, her research emerges from collaborations with families, parishes, community organizations, and dioceses.   

3) Haitians’ Reactions To Losses
When dealing with traumatic losses, Haitians tend to demonstrate a certain degree of culturally reinforced resilience.  The Haitians’ resilience encompasses different aspects of stress resistance.  It can be modified and improved with therapeutic interventions, leading to better functioning and adaptation to life circumstances and losses.

Jean B. Tropnas, M.D., originally from Haiti, is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Presently he is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center where he treats outpatients, supervises psychiatric residents and teaches psychiatry to medical students. He founded the Haitian-American Psychiatric Association (HAPA) in 1986. 

4) Manifestations of Faith And Grief in Haitian Culture
While not a homogenous community, Haitians generally believe that the survival of the soul relies on the family and the community, supported by cultural foods, music and activities in the grieving process.   Join us to discuss and better understand these practices and their adaptation in the US.

Bishop Guy Sansaricq, retired auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and a native of Haiti, served on several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and headed the National Haitian Apostolate. Officially retired, he continues to be active in his diocese as well as in the USCCB where he is a member of the Committee on Cultural Diversity and the Haiti Advisory Group.

5) Asian Beliefs and Cultural Practices That Support Healing
Asians in general have a long tradition of venerating their ancestors and deceased loved ones. This session will present basic cultural and religious practices that facilitate healing and hope to the grieving as done in China and the Philippines. It will briefly touch on modified practices done in the US by immigrants from these countries.

Sr. Monica Gan was born in XinJiang, China.  She is a member of Congregation of the Little Sisters of St. Theresa. She holds a M.A. from Fordham University where she is a candidate for a D.Min.  Presently, she ministers at St. John Vianney Church, Flushing. 
Rev. Patrick H. Longalong is the coordinator of the Filipino Diocesan Apostolate, Diocese of Brooklyn.  He is currently the associate pastor in St. Francis de Sales in Far Rockaway.  

6) Exploring Grief And Faith
For many, faith is a great comfort and sustainer when faced with loss. Some may experience a crisis of faith or still others may have no faith when experiencing grief.  All grieve and all need someone to walk with them on the journey of grief.  In this workshop, Brother Andre will reflect on how grief affects faith or vice versa and how one can be supportive on the grief journey no matter where a person is faith wise. 

Br. Andre Mathieu, C.P.  has served in various capacities in the Eastern Province of American Passionists. Since 1996, he has been full time in the Passionist Itinerant Ministry directing retreats and workshops for men and women Religious; clergy and laity. Br. Andre holds an M.A. in Pastoral Theology (Ministry) from Boston College; an M.S. in Gerontology and a Certificate in Thanatology from the College of New Rochelle, NY; and is Certified in Death and Dying by ADEC, the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

7) Bereavement in Children: Emotional And Behavioral Impact and Available Services
The experience of bereavement is ubiquitous, even for children.  We tend to underestimate the impact of these events on children.  This workshop will focus on the range of emotional and behavioral responses seen in grieving children.  Developmental differences will be highlighted.  In addition, what we know about effective interventions will be presented, with a discussion of the challenges of linking families to such services.

Elissa Brown, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of the Child HELP Partnership and Professor of Psychology at St. John's University.  She specializes in helping children who have suffered physical, sexual or incident-based trauma, and bereavement related to traumatic circumstances with an emphasis on treatment and prevention. Many of her clients are from culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged populations. Dr. Brown is a member of several national and international organizations dedicated to improving mental health services for traumatized children and is on the Board of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

8) Understanding the Comparative/Contrasting Journey to Healing of Men and Women
In this workshop we will discuss normal and problematic grief and will identify specific gender related strategies utilized by men and women to express and work through grief experiences.  This conversation will be framed in the context of culture and class, both of which may influence how we deal with grief.  Active participation of the audience will allow for a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the various ways grief could affect our everyday function.

Rafael A. Javier, Ph.D., ABPP is a Professor of Psychology and the Director of Inter-agencies Training and Research Initiatives and the Post-Graduate Professional Programs at St. John’s University. Dr. Javier has presented at national and international conferences on ethnic and cultural issues in psychoanalytic theories and practice, and the impact on general cognitive and emotional functioning. He also maintains a private practice in Queens, NY.

9) Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
This presentation will explore the common manifestations of grief, and responses and strategies to cope with loss.  It will differentiate responses and strategies for spousal loss, parental loss, sibling loss and loss of a child. 

Raman Randhawa, MH.C,NCC completed both her B.A. in Psychology and MSED in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at St. John's University. After an internship at Calvary Hospital, she was hired by Calvary as a bereavement counselor.  She is currently facilitating bereavement groups for children, teenagers, and adults, in both Brooklyn and the Bronx.

10) Why And “How To” Create And Facilitate A Parish Bereavement Support Group 
This workshop will review the basics of establishing and maintaining a bereavement group in a parish. 

Sr. Kathleen Masterson, R.S.M., is a Pastoral Associate at Sacred Heart Church in Bayside, NY.  Over 30 years ago, she, along with four other parishioners, founded the Sacred Heart Bereavement Support Group. It was one of the first such groups in the Brooklyn Diocese to offer bereavement support. It continues to this day with seven counselors on the team. Apart from facilitating the monthly bereavement group, Sister does individual counseling of parishioners and oversees the parish ministry of consolation.  In areas of grief work, Sister has lectured to various church groups and organizations on how to begin and maintain support groups.

Co-sponsored by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Catholic Cemeteries, Diocese of Brooklyn and The Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s University.