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Pastoral Mental Health Counseling Conference

Banner image with the title of the 2020 Pastoral Mental Health Counseling Conference

Between Hope and Despair: Caring in the Age of Climate Crisis

Friday March 6, 2020 | 9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fordham University Rose Hill Campus, Keating First Auditorium
441 E Fordham Rd, Bronx, NY 10458

The conference is free, but registration is required. 
Register here.

Please join us after the conference for a reception celebrating GRE's 50th anniversary.

Climate change portends dire consequences for human existence and the existence of millions of other species. How can pastoral caregivers understand their role of care in the face of a climate emergency? Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D. will present the implications of climate change for pastoral theology and care, identify the macro and micro challenges for caregivers, and describe the importance of "inoperative care" that navigates between the poles of hope and despair.

Join us with
Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D.

Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology
Mary Beth Werdel, Ph.D.

Director, Pastoral Mental Health Counseling program, Fordham University

Questions? Please contact us at

Conference Program

9:00 – 10:00: Registration

10:00 – 10:15: Welcome

10:15 – 11:15: "Climate Change and the Anthropocene Consequences and Implications for Pastoral Theology and Care" by Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D.


11:30 – 12:30: "Micro and Macro Challenges for Caregivers in the Anthropocene" by Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D.


1:30 - 2:15: "Navigating between Hope and Despair: Inoperative Care in the Anthropocene" by Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D.

2:15 – 2:30: Response from MaryBeth Werdel, Ph.D.


2:40 – 3:30: Panel discussion with Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D., Mary Beth Werdel, Ph.D., Kirk Bingaman, Ph.D., and Lisa Cataldo, Ph.D.

3:30- 4:00: Survey and Conclusion

At the conclusion of the conference, all attendees are encouraged to stay for a reception celebrating GRE's 50th anniversary.

About the Speakers

Ryan LaMothe, Ph.D. is a professor of pastoral care and counseling. Over the last 24 years, he has published over 160 articles and book reviews, as well as six books and two edited volumes.

These publications address topics in psychoanalysis, psychology of religion, pastoral counseling, pastoral theology, and most recently, pastoral political theology.

In 2017, he received Springer Publishing Award, titled “Transforming the World One Article at a Time.” He has served on three editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals, and has served as president of the Society for Pastoral Theology.

Mary Beth Werdel, Ph.D. is the director of the pastoral mental health counseling program at Fordham University. She received her doctorate in pastoral counseling from Loyola University Maryland. She currently teaches both clinical and research classes for graduate level pastoral care and counseling students. The classes she has taught include Research for Pastoral Counselors, Death, Dying and Bereavement, Marriage and Family Therapy, Group Counseling, and Clinical Internship. She serves as a mentor and reader on Ph.D. dissertations, D.Min. major papers, and M.A. major papers.

Dr. Werdel's research focuses on the intersection of spirituality and well being during times of loss, stress, and trauma. She is currently conducting a research study focused on spirituality as a positive and negative coping resource for parents raising children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

About the Conference

Each year, GRE hosts a conference gathering focused on exploring issues and practices within the field of Pastoral Mental Health Counseling. Past conference topics have included:

  • Spiritual Care in a Digital Age, with keynote addresses by Jaco Hamman, Ph.D., and Kirk Bingaman, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling, Fordham University
  • Reflecting in the Aftermath: The Ministry of Spiritual Care for Trama Victims and Spiritual Care for the Self with a keynote address by Rabbi Stephen Roberts
  • Contemplative Practice and Healing: Insights on Neuroplasticity for Spiritual Care with a keynote address by Dennis McAuliiffe, Ph.D.
  • Riding the Dragon: Strengthening Your Inner Life in Challenging Times with a keynote address by Dr. Robert Wicks
  • Spiritual Geographies of Domestic Violence with keynote addresses by Sally MacNichol, Ph.D. and Jill L. Snodgrass, Ph.D.
  • Moral Stress and Spiritual Struggles: How can religious and spiritual resources be part of change for persons and the world with keynote by Carrie Doehring, Ph.D.
  • Calming the Chaos: Clinical and Pastoral Responses in Traumatic Times with keynote address by Rev Matt Crebbin and Dr. Cheryl Fisher

In addition to hosting these exciting conferences, GRE is pleased to offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) to all NACC members who attend.

* The provider of this educational event has designed the program so that it may be considered by participants for use as continuing education to enhance the professional knowledge and pastoral competency of chaplains certified through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc.® an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains®.