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New Joint Grebel-UW Appointment will focus on Spirituality and Aging

Friday, September 16, 2016

Jane KuepferPresident Susan Schultz Huxman has announced that Jane Kuepfer was named the Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging, a joint half time position between Conrad Grebel University College and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) at the University of Waterloo.

“We are so pleased to partner with Ron Schlegel and the RIA on this innovative academic partnership,” said Huxman. “Jane comes to us with extensive experience as a spiritual caregiver in long term care facilities and in the community, as a registered psychotherapist, and as an ordained Minister in both the Mennonite Church and United Church of Canada.” As a Grebel alum, former Senior Resident (with husband JD,) and current parent, Jane is well connected with the Grebel community and also to the network of people who attend the annual Spirituality and Aging seminars at Grebel.

As part of her role, Kuepfer will now coordinate this seminar, conduct research, and teach graduate courses in Spirituality and Aging. Dr. Marianne Mellinger recently retired from this role initiated 11 years ago in conjunction with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging.  Its founder, Ron Schlegel, notes that “Spirituality is an area that continues to grow as we age, in spite of declines in physical or cognitive health, and this is very important for quality of life.” 

Kuepfer is currently completing a doctorate in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary with a dissertation focus in the area of Spirituality and Aging. She has an MDiv from Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology, and a BA from University of Waterloo. In her role she will report to the Dean at Conrad Grebel and the RIA Executive Director, Josie d’Avernas. Funding for this position originates from Schlegel Villages as part of their efforts to expand research and innovation on aging.

“We look forward to welcoming Jane as a member of Grebel’s growing faculty, staff, and student community,” said Interim Dean Marlene Epp. “Her research and teaching focus will enrich our graduate program in Theological Studies, and in particular the applied stream of study.”

Research Institute for Aging“The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging is very pleased to partner with Conrad Grebel University College to support this important area of work,” said d’Avernas.  “Jane has not only the necessary skills, but also a passion to drive innovation through research, training, and practice in spiritual care for older adults.”

“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to continue and to expand the work of research and public education in this field,” said Kuepfer.  “I remember the early years of the first Schlegel Villages, when I was chaplain at the Village of Winston Park, and am enthused to re-engage with residents, families, and spiritual care providers as we continually learn together how to provide exceptional spiritual support to those navigating the changes that come with age. As a spiritual care provider in long term care, I have learned that the final chapters of life are deeply important. In this role I hope to encourage and empower our communities to talk about the experience of aging, to walk with one another through transitions, to tap into our various spiritual resources, and to find meaning together.”

Kuepfer currently serves as pastor at Nithview Community, a retirement facility in New Hamburg operated by Tri-County Mennonite Homes.

This specialist academic position is part of the College’s strategic plan “Extending the Grebel Table” to enrich the applied theology stream in the Master of Theological Studies program.

For further information, contact:

Marlene Epp, Interim Dean
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6
519-885-0220 x24257


Josie D’Avernas, Executive Director
Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
250 Laurelwood Drive
Waterloo, ON N2J 0E2
519-904-0660 x4103

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