Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Course topic: Facing death

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

CRESTVIEW HILLS - Can learning about death help people deal with an inevitable part of life?

One local priest and professor at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills hopes to do just that with a class that's open to the public this month.

The class, "Facing the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective on Death and Dying," is offered through the college's Department of Lifelong Learning and is open to the public.

"It's designed to appeal to a broad group of people," said Father Ronald Ketteler, chairman of the department of theology who will teach the course. "This is oriented toward the spirituality of life. You can't truly appreciate living until you confront dying."

He expects that the class will include those curious about these issues of spirituality, as well as those coping with the death of a loved one and health-care professionals.

Ketteler said dying is a part of life people faced as a matter of routine throughout history, but in modern times, there has been a reluctance to confront and deal with it.

"In the Middle Ages, there was an art of dying, a consciousness of it, a sense of it being a part of reality," he said. "But somehow in modern times, we have pushed that away. We need to recapture that consciousness of death."

The class will cover the "Priority of Care Over Cure," "Christian Hope in the Face of Death," "The Sacrament of Dying" and "The Catholic Moral Tradition on the Obligations of Treatment."

He said rising life expectancy, coupled with quality of life issues and an aging population, has brought the issue to the forefront for many people and a need for emotional support.

Ketteler, who has taught similar classes at hospitals, parishes and to health-care organizations, has studied and taught medical ethics and issues surrounding death since 1965. He also serves on ethics committees at Carmel Manor Retirement Homes and St. Luke Hospital.

The class runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays for four weeks, beginning Sept. 13. Registration is $35 and covers materials. To register, call the Department of Lifelong Learning at (859) 344-3333.

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