OCAMPR Offers Pan-Orthodox Conference on Care for Severely Challenged Patients


Brookline, Mass. -  The 2009 Annual Conference of Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion (OCAMPR) will focus on Care for the Severely Challenged Patient. Presentations at the conference will review the needs of patients with chronic illnesses and severe and persisting trauma from a pastoral, medical, and psychotherapeutic perspective. Speakers will include Deacon Nathanael Symeonides, Dr. Aaron Haney, Dr. Michael Christakis, and Presbytera Maryann Tonias. The conference will meet at the Holy Cross Seminary campus in Brookline, Mass., November 6-7, 2009, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday evening. 

OCAMPR is an inter-jurisdictional network of Orthodox persons in helping and healing professions, endorsed by the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).  The conference will be prefaced by an open General Board Meeting on Friday November 6, at 1:30 pm at Holy Cross.

Over the two day conference, speakers focusing on medicine, psychology, and theology will offer talks on various dimensions of Care for the Severely Challenged Patient and discuss a sample case.  Group discussions will invite reflections, questions, and comments from conferees.  Resources on caregivers’ practical concerns from medicine, nursing, hospice, ethics, theology, law, counseling, chaplaincy, and clinical pastoral education will be available at the conference, and the Holy Cross bookstore will also offer resources.

Fr. Nathanael Symeonides is deacon to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.  He is a native of Thessaloniki, Greece, and holds degrees from Hellenic College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Boston University.  He is now completing a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Columbia University.  Fr. Symeonides also serves as an adjunct instructor at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York.  He has published several articles, principally on subjects pertaining to bioethics.

Dr. Aaron Haney was born and raised in Southern Indiana the son of a Wesleyan minister.  At the outset of the first Gulf War he withdrew from university and joined the Army.  He served as an infantryman two years in Korea.  In 1996 he was chrismated into the Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana.  Soon thereafter he started medical school at Indiana University on an Army scholarship.  He finished his residency in psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2006 and then spent three years at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, as a Medical Detachment Commander and clinician with a deployment to Iraq.  He now lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Jennifer and son Elias.  He works as a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatrist at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Michael Christakis is a general internist with a practice at the Worcester (Massachusetts) VA Clinic, which is the largest community-based outpatient clinic of the Boston VA Healthcare System.  He teaches medical students and residents, is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians, went to medical school in Greece, and trained at Roger Williams Hospital of the Brown University internal medicine training program.  His practice includes care for veterans from the various American wars, including an increasingly large number of veterans from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Dr. Christakis has been in the VA for fifteen years, serving at various VA facilities in New England and in his current post in Worcester for seven years.

Presbytera Maryann Tonias is a native of Schenectady/Niskayuna, NY.  She received her BSN from Russell Sage in Troy, NY and her MSN from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. She has worked as a nurse in rehabilitation, public health, and clinical practice and now works as a hospital educator at the VA in Bedford, Massachusetts. She converted to orthodoxy in 1986 at St. Sophia in Albany, NY.  She now lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, with her husband, Fr. Demetrios Tonias, and their four children.

The Orthodox Christian Tradition emphasizes a holistic perspective concerning one’s life in Christ.  OCAMPR works to cultivate interdisciplinary dialogue and programs in an effort to realize that holistic approach in human service.  It is a pan-Orthodox organization for those who seek to better understand and experience the relationship between theology and the healing arts and sciences, so they may better offer their services in the light of Christ‘s truth and the Church‘s wisdom.

Throughout its over twenty year history, OCAMPR’s purpose has been to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and promote Christian fellowship among professionals in medicine, nursing, mental health, psychology, ethics, theology, Church ministry, chaplaincy, parish nursing, social services, prison and community ministries

OCAMPR hopes to continue contributing in faith-filled, collaborative ways to the spiritual sustenance and growth of helping and healing professionals who are dedicated to addressing the needs of our hurting world.  The OCAMPR Executive Committee urges all persons who experience their Orthodox Christian faith as the center of their professional life and ministry to attend the November 6th open Board Meeting at 1:30 pm at Holy Cross.  The meeting will help chart OCAMPR’s future, clarifying how our shared love for Christ and the holistic view of personhood and sacredness inherent in Orthodoxy might continue to unfold. 

Conference registration fee is $75 for OCAMPR full members, $10 for student members, and  $100 for non-members.  Registration includes lunch on Saturday, but does not include housing.  OCAMPR annual membership dues are $100 for full members and $25 for student members.  For best value, become a new member to receive your conference registration at the reduced rate for full and student members.

Persons interested in this conference or in joining OCAMPR may find the registration form on the OCAMPR webpage at www.OCAMPR.org or may contact any of the conference planning committee members for more details: Very Rev. George Morelli, PhD, LMFT, at gmorelli@fdu.edu, Dr. John Demakis, MD, at jgd11@erols.com, Dr. Demetra Velisarios Jaquet, DMin., BCC., at deejaquet@aol.com, W. David Holden, LPC, LCAS at davidholden1@bellsouth.net, or Marion Avtges, BA, RN, at metaxiaa@comcast.net