On Professional Development: OMC conference 2010

About this time last week, I was on my way to the annual educational conference organized and hosted by the Ontario Multifaith Council, thanks to the intervention of my mother-in-law and my friend Brian.  There's a long story behind that, but let's shorten it to "I wasn't sure I'd be able to go, but people made sure it happened."  Since I became involved with my Regional Multifaith Committee a couple of years back, I've made it a priority to attend, even though I'm the token Pagan in the facility and I spend most of my downtime answering questions about what it is Pagans believe and do.  This year's conference was no different: the first evening, before I'd even checked in, the questions began.  I don't have any objection to educating people, but I'd have liked to have had a chance to put my suitcase down first!  All in all, though, I had a really wonderful time, and I'm getting to the point where I know people now, and look forward to seeing them.  I particularly enjoy talking to institutional (hospital, long-term care, corrections) chaplains, because they're somewhat more accustomed to working in a pluralistic environment than my fellow faith group representatives, and thus, tend to ask better questions.

This year's sessions were amazingly diverse and a real pleasure to attend.  The keynote speech was entitled From Meditation to Music to Mosaics: Spiritual Practices in the Context of Holistic Care, and focused on enabling spiritual development through creativity.  It was as great as it sounds!  I attended four presentations after that: Ethical Committees in Long-Term Care, Prevalence and Mental Health Care Needs of Inmates in Ontario Correctional Facilities: Implications for Policy and Practice, Losses and Lingers (related to dementia/Alzheimer's care), and Spiritual Care Practices to Nurture Spirituality, Health and Well-Being.  I had wanted to attend the evening program on the healing power of song, but I grabbed what I thought would be a quick nap and wound up  sleeping through it!

As I've told a whole lot of my colleagues, this conference is one of the very few opportunities I have, as a spiritual care provider, for professional development.  As a Pagan Priestess, there just aren't that many resources available to me, and fewer still that land within my financial and time budgets.  The educational conference is really beneficial to me, that way.  I can both learn and teach in a stimulating environment.  It energizes me.

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