Attendees from various Religious Communities in the region gathered at the residence of the Sisters of St. Dominic in Amityville, NY, on August 19 and at the residence of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Ossining, NY, on August 24 to listen to Alf Norwood and Sister Peter Lillian Di Maria, O.Carm. provide insight into the importance of preparing for transition. Alf Norwood introduced the seminar by explaining the physiological effects of aging, which he then followed by sharing preventative measures to assist in aging well. The concepts of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis were presented to illustrate the science behind taking a proactive approach toward aging. He explained, "Over time, your neurons restructure and rewire to recognize reality. The old neurons don't go away, but you build new neurons—new scaffolding. When you look at transitions, you have the opportunity to build that scaffolding and address the issues beforehand so you can avoid stress and potential depression."
Sister Peter introduced the second part of the presenation by identifying the positive aspects of aging, stressing the importance of seeking opportunities to continue to be involved in purposeful activities. Tangible tools to assist in the transition process were shared. Examples of these tools included developing and defining the roles of the transition team, as well as addressing the necessary stages of transitioning (e.g., grieving). The seminar included an interactive session composed of the following:
- A self-care assessment based on physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and workplace self-care criteria
- Self-care coping strategies and self reflection
- A reflection on Community life using sensory aids (i.e., music and pictures from Religious life) from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Attendees reminisced about Community life during those eras and discussed how to enhance Community life now. Sister Peter emphasized, "Young women and men really want to change the world. They know that we (Religious) do change the world by our witness. They want to learn how we do it."
Based on input and interest from attendees, a follow-up event will be held to focus on how to apply the information obtained from the seminar into actionable steps; specifically, how Religious can continue to fill the needs of their Communities in alignment with the strategic goal of the Community—maybe in a different capacity than they are accustomed to, but just as meaningful.