Conference aims to give people hope - Catholic Courier

Conference aims to give people hope

The loss of a relationship can parallel Christ’s suffering, death and rebirth, said local therapist Dennis Boike.

Boike will draw an analogy between the paschal mystery and the end of a relationship during his keynote address at the eighth annual Hope Conference, which is intended to help heal those going through divorce, separation or the death of a spouse.

After going through suffering and the death of the relationship, people can choose to be reborn into a new life and decide whether to grieve and let go of their losses, said Boike, who has a doctorate in marriage and family therapy.

“The loss is one thing, and the reception of a new life is another,” said Boike, a parishioner of Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford.

Several other speakers also will take a spiritual look at life’s transitions during the conference, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. May 5 at St. Christopher’s Church, 3350 Union Street, North Chili. The event will be followed by Mass and a pizza dinner.

The theme of the conference will be “The Rose,” which is as a nod to the love song Bette Midler made into a hit in 1979. The conference takes its inspiration from the lyrics, which speak the floral symbol of love lying dormant in the winter and blossoming in the spring, said Peggy Cunningham, who along with her husband, Deacon John Cunningham, is coordinating the conference.

“It’s a day for them to come and just to have for themselves to be pampered and loved and fed and nourished in the spirit,” Peggy Cunningham said.

Usually about 70 to 75 people attend the conference, she said, adding that she hopes parishes will suggest the conference to those in need.

“We have something for each stage of grief, including rebuilding and moving on,” Cunningham said.

Other speakers will include Father Raymond Fleming, pastor of St. Monica Parish and Emmanuel Church of the Deaf in Rochester; Nancy DeRycke, pastoral administrator of the Church of the Resurrection in Fairport; Ron Stacy, a qualified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator; Rayann Ranzenbach, professional facilitator for Lifetime Care; Deacon Thomas J. Driscoll, pastoral associate of St. John the Evangelist Church in Spencerport; and Judith Leone, faith-formation director for St. Christopher.

The conference will teach techniques to cope with a relationship loss. For example, Deacon Driscoll will speak about how rituals spark the natural grieving process in people going through the end of relationships or going through life changes such as retirement.

Deacon Driscoll said common rituals include prayer, confession, journaling, writing a letter and, in the case of a death of loved one, tending a grave, saying a Mass or honoring All Souls Day.

“A ritual is an extremely powerful way for human beings to feel connected to other people and God,” he said.

DeRycke said she will be speaking about how people can let go of bitterness and deal with strained or broken relationships.

“We can make the choice to learn from our relationships and grow and become a positive human being,” she said.

DeRycke’s husband, Ron Stacy, will be speaking about communication and how the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, which categorizes people into 16 different personality types, can help people understand the challenges they face in communication. No one personality type is better than another in communicating, Stacy noted.

Also at the conference, those who have gone through similar losses will share their experiences and help others, Cunningham said. She said the goal of the day is to get people to the place where they were before they had their loss, whether it’s a loss of self-esteem, self-worth or companionship.

“There’s a realization that they are not alone in what they are going through,” Cunningham said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Early registration for the Hope Conference is encouraged, although walk-ins will be accepted. The cost is $20 for registrations made by April 23 and $25 thereafter. The fee includes workshops, a continental breakfast, lunch and a pizza dinner. Scholarships to the conference also may be available. For details, contact Deacon John or Peggy Cunningham at 585/293-3337 or e-mail

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