Standing the Test of Time: Catholic Bioethics Today - St. Bernard's

Standing the Test of Time: Catholic Bioethics Today

Jul 4, 2023

Jean Baric Parker, D.Be.

St. Bernard’s Graduate Certificate in Catholic Bioethics is an innovative program in partnership with the renowned National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), located in Philadelphia, PA. This unique graduate certificate is designed to comprehensively address a variety of pastoral and clinical situations and may also be credited towards a Master’s degree at St. Bernard’s. In this endeavor, St. Bernard’s draws not only from its current bioethics faculty members, but also from its other faculty with expertise in relevant topics such as Theology of the Body, Moral Theology, Pastoral Care, and Catholic Philosophy, as well as from several distinguished guest lecturers.

The graduate certificate is of particular interest to health care professionals, chaplains, ordained and religious persons, diocesan employees, marriage counselors, lawyers, and those connected to the health care or educational systems. Students find answers to questions that confront them in their day-to-day vocational work, as well as in their personal and family lives. All topics are considered in a highly practical light, with emphasis given to real-world applications in health care, academic, and pastoral settings.

"The graduate certificate program in bioethics at St. Bernard's came at just the right time for me to refresh and build on the education I received several years ago from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia,” says The Very Rev. Robert Siler from the Diocese of Yakima, WA. “Both professors - Dr. Jean Baric Parker and Dr. Peter Colosi - are outstanding educators who are firm in their faith and are able to model respectful dialogue with others in our diverse society with whom we may disagree. I am grateful to St. Bernard's for this program and I look forward to sharing what I have learned for many years to come."

Now approaching its second academic year, the fruits of this program are not only timely but of the utmost importance in the world today. Society has perhaps never been more divided on issues like abortion, bodily autonomy, physician-assisted suicide, gender dysphoria, genetic manipulation, vaccine mandates, and conscientious objection rights, to name a few examples. Catholics trying to make sense of these issues in light of their faith, and especially those who encounter ethical dilemmas in their career or pastoral work, can draw from the extensive ‘ethical toolbox’ made available by the Church from her long tradition of moral reflection. This toolbox draws upon the Church’s walk with Christ, to provide time-tested ethical principles based on sound Catholic theology, philosophy, and anthropology.

The graduates of this program are well-equipped to apply these ‘tools’ to a range of relevant situations. Catholic Bioethics is becoming ever more indispensable to modern life. It helps orient the Body of Christ towards a deeper understanding of key issues surrounding human life, the human body, and the human person, apart from the quicksand of changeable societal norms. Ultimately, such an understanding helps us to make better decisions and assists us in the evangelical work of pointing the way for others. Through these kinds of careful moral decisions, deliberately made, we can encounter and experience the singular fulfillment that God intends for us.

Dr. Jean Baric Parker’s interest in Bioethics was piqued while studying Catholic Theology at Holy Apostles Seminary, leading to certification in Catholic Bioethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, where she focused on the moral implications of egg donation. More recently, Dr. Baric Parker earned her Doctorate in Bioethics from Loyola University at Chicago, focusing on beginning-of-life ethical issues, including egg donation and embryonic stem cell research. She currently serves on the Ethics Committees of the Catholic Medical Association and Empire State Stem Cell Board and is a Contributing Editor for the Linacre Quarterly ethics journal. Dr. Baric Parker is Program Director for St. Bernard's Graduate Certificate in Catholic Bioethics and teaches the introductory course, “Catholic Bioethics: At the Beginning of Life.” She lives in Rochester, NY where she and her husband, Kevin, raised their four children.