Annual wellness conference at Caritas Christi motherhouse focuses on 'Lifespan Rhythms'
At Caritas Christi motherhouse in Greensburg, home to the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, “we're all about communicating” and responding to the needs of the community, says Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro, director of development.
“The sisters are primarily teachers,” she says. “It's part of their ministry of reaching out and advancing their mission and vision. They are interested in the whole concept of health and wellness.”
Their dedication to caring for others was evident at last year's second annual Citizens of the World Wellness Conference, which focused on hunger issues and showcased the Sisters' community garden created in partnership with Seton Hill University.
Through their hard work and help from volunteers, including students and members of the community, the nuns' planting project located between the convent and the university yielded crops of potatoes that have been shared among the university's dining hall, the kitchen for the sisters and the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
Cuccaro says plans are underway to add additional crops to the garden this spring.
This year's third annual conference on May 5 will address the theme of “Lifespan Rhythms: A Focus on Memory, Hormones and Vitality.” Conference topics will examine alternative health remedies emphasizing nutrition and exercise, maintaining hormone balance, when and what legal steps to consider when memory impairment begins and how financial resources impact lifespan vitality and rhythms. The event's focus on memory impairment will highlight the progress of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill's Elizabeth Seton Memory Care Center, located in a first-floor wing of Caritas Christi. The licensed personal care home opened in 2015 and specializes in memory care for women.
“It has developed into a beautiful program,” says Cuccaro, who will lead a panel discussion on “How to Detect Early Signs of Memory Loss, Care Options, Necessary Legal Steps and Advance Directives.” Panelists will include Sister Judy Laffey, former director of nursing at Caritas Christi; Dr. Eric Rodriquez, internal medicine and geriatrics; and attorney Vince Quatrini.
Another panel discussion led by Dr. Ina Bazley will discuss “We Are What We … Eat, Think, Breathe and Pray: Ways of Healing” with Patricia Carter, microbiome diet specialist; Sister Bernadette Manning, licensed professional counselor; and Jyl Glunt, exercise therapist and Edith Nault Shreckengast, clinical/sports dietitian, both with Excela Health Care.
Glunt says exercise is important not only to healing, but also to preventive care.
“A healthy lifestyle is important in maintaining a healthy life,” Glunt says. “Individuals that maintain an active lifestyle through exercise have an increase in endorphins that help to reduce anxiety and stress. This has a direct correlation with maintaining mental clarity and healing.”
Shreckengast and her team at Excela's Well-Being Center work with patients with heart disease, celiac, hyperglycemia, weight loss and eating disorders “where reconnecting with food is the main focus of what we do.”
She works to help patients re-establish a healthy relationship with food that is healing and nourishing. At the conference, her goal is for participants to realize that “healthy eating shouldn't be a negative point drilled into you, but embraced through love, balance in eating, and respect.”
The Citizens of the World Wellness Conference hosted by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill is sponsored by Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital and by S'eclairer, an integrative psychiatric medical practice located in Export.
Dr. Safdar I. Chaudhary, medical director for S'eclairer, will give the keynote address following a welcome and introductions by Sister Catherine Meinert, United States Provincial Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the Elizabeth Seton Memory Care Center when the conference adjourns at 3:30 p.m.
The conference is open to the public. Professionals, including licensed social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists and physicians, will have the opportunity to earn educational credits. The deadline to register for the conference is April 21.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.