Spirituality and Aging: Research & Public Education

Spirituality and Aging is housed at Conrad Grebel University College. It is an integral component of the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.

Spirituality and Aging’s two-fold purpose is to promote research in the field of spirituality and aging to enhance the well-being of older adults, and to be a resource to students, clergy, chaplains, caregivers, professionals, and the general public, through university classes, public lectures, and workshops.

Spirituality is at the core of human experience. If we are committed to assisting all people to age well, then facilitating the growth, development, and expression of an individual’s spirituality is integral to the aging journey.


This program area promotes research and education in the field of spirituality that will benefit the lives of current and incoming residents and staff in retirement and long-term care. The goal is to provide spiritual care programs that will support the diverse needs of the growing aging population. An available resource that has emerged from this research is Multi-faith practices: Guidelines for caregiversSelected publications and presentations can be accessed by the public.

Public Education

An annual public lecture is often held in June. In 2021, Grebel hosted (online) the 9th International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality, and the in-person 10th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality in 2022.

University Course

TS 689/RS 387 ‘Aging and the Spiritual Life’, will be offered next in fall 2023. This is a combined undergraduate and graduate course that attracts students across the age spectrum, enabling engagement across generations, cultures and faith perspectives. 

The Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging provides leadership to the RIA Spiritual Care for Seniors Program, creating and collecting a body of research, providing training and resources for long term care staff and educating family members and others on issues of spirituality and aging. She is available for speaking engagements, consulting and training, and will be teaching ‘Aging and the Spiritual Life’.

Our History

The joint Grebel and RIA initiative in Spirituality and Aging was made possible through the leadership of Ron and Barb Schlegel and what was then Oakwood Retirement Communities. At the time Ron noted that the connection to Grebel brought him full circle: “In our first nursing home facility in London 40 years ago, the chaplain was Ralph Lebold, who went on to serve as president at Conrad Grebel.”

Schlegel wants to make sure that spirituality is adequately understood and resourced, in long-term care facilities, congregations and communities.

From 2005-2016 the Spirituality and Aging program was coordinated by Marianne Mellinger. In 2016, Jane Kuepfer was appointed Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging.

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