Clinician finds rest and renewal at the Medicine and Ministry Conference

Health of the whole person – mind, body and spirit – is the focus of the Medicine and Ministry Conference (, a concept introduced in the 1940s by French physician/theologian Paul Tournier. For the last 40 years this conference has strived to keep his healing principles vital and relevant by choosing speakers from the healing professions who help conferees explore issues of emotional, spiritual and physical healing.[1]


For the past five years, Dr. Patrick McAleney, clinical psychologist at the Fayetteville Family Life Center, and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Dyer, COL US Army, have been attending this insightful and fulfilling conference in early November in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Hendersonville, NC at the beautiful Kanuga Conference Center. While originally invited by a colleague, Dr. McAleney and his wife now serve on the steering committee and will be conveners at next year’s conference.


Among the many reasons he supports and attends this conference is the Kanuga Conference Center that provides a wonderful experience of getting away from the hustle and bustle of his practice and a place to truly listen to the Holy Spirit. He also appreciates the variety of speakers who promote conversation for all types of physicians to share personal experiences of both ministry and working in a healing medical environment.


A few weeks ago at the 2012 conference, the Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, spoke on “meaning and accountability in an overstressed world” with a focus on the ancient wisdom tradition of the desert mystic and monastic fathers.


The 2013 conference will bring Dr. Edward Tick, developer of Soldier’s Heart (, a unique and comprehensive model to address the emotional, moral, and spiritual wounds of veterans, their families and communities. Soldier’s Heart offers a genuine healing and homecoming from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by developing a new and honorable warrior identity supported by community. Additionally, Dr. Tick has explored ancient and cross-cultural warrior traditions that reveal the necessities for successful warrior return.[2]


“Dr. Tick’s message is very timely for North Carolina where we have such a huge presence of military here. Each community has one, two or more soldiers who have just returned from combat,” reflects Dr. McAleney.


The Medicine and Ministry Conference certainly has a focus toward the physician, but it is also for chaplains, ministers, and spiritual practitioners. Additionally, spouses and partners are encouraged to attend. It provides a great opportunity for rest, reflection, and connections with others, and physicians can earn continuing education credits. Dr. McAleney hopes other CareNet practitioners will also see this conference as a valuable retreat. It is a sanctuary not to be missed.

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