Center for Spiritual Care

Integrating Body, Mind, Spirit & Creativity

Meet Our Facilitators


Fran Basso     

Program:  Prayerful Knitting

Hi, I am Fran Basso. I moved to Vero Beach, FL 22 years ago, amazing how time flies.

So, I was looking for spirituality, more than going to church. I was looking to hang with other women and share myself and listen to them. I had been connected to the Upper Room Spiritual Center many years while living in New Jersey and so I wanted and needed more of that kind of connection.

First, I met a lovely woman, Maureen Schlitt, she was of the same mind and looking to meet with women and connect in a meaningful, spiritual way. She opened her home for a few of us to meet there and at that time shared her dream with us of opening a spiritual house for women. That dream became a reality and I am happy to say I've been involved at the Center for Spiritual Care for the 20 years it has been here in our small town Vero Beach, city of truth!

The program I facilitate at the Center is called Prayerful Knitting which another woman, Pat Rogers, and I got started soon after the Center opened. We have a group of terrific women with exceptional knitting/crocheting skills. We enjoy an hour and a half each Wed. doing our preferred needlework, primarily making prayer shawls for loved ones, anyone who is ill, recovering from surgery or illness. We have offered them at times to Hospice House as needed.

On occasion a stranger has come to our door saying they heard of our shawls and wanted to bring one to their mom, daughter, a person in the hospital in need of the comfort and warmth a shawl can bring.

We are happy to give them a shawl so try to have a few on hand at the Center should someone come knocking at our door.

We also take time to pray during our weekly gathering.  We pray for our families, people we love and care about and we are often asked to pray for others. You will see us come with our lists and times we forget our list we know God remembers the persons we carry in our hearts to the group. This group blesses us as we come knit and pray and in turn blesses others.


Susan Johnson

Program:  Women’s Wellness Meditation


Originally hailing from S. Wales, Great Britain, I came to this country in 1964 to live in Baltimore Maryland. After a few months of au pair work, I was fortunate to work in Television. First job was a clerical position then I went on to a wonderful and creative job as a Production Assistant and then Associate Producer. We had the first audience participation talk show on the east coast. Together with the producer we provided 5 hours of live programming a week. We shared guests with Phil Donohue and it was a fun time.

The Wellness Meditation Group is very informal. Many of us have been together for quite some time. We gather each Tuesday morning in season. As most of the participants are snow birds our class is from November to May. Before we do a guided meditation we catch up with each other on the happenings of the past week. Generally we start after about 25 minutes of many animated conversations. The meditation is usually about 20 minutes in length. Afterwards our members describe their experiences. We thrive on the safety and acceptance of each member.


Paula Hardin

Program:  A Course of Love


What is a Course of Love? This Course is an experience. It is about the transformation from fear-based living to the assurance that Love is all there is. Love is a powerful force. Love transforms the mind and heart, unifying them, and taking you to the Truth of who you are.

Central to our time together is the book by Mari Perron, First Receiver:  A Course of Love.  “Call me God the Father, call me God the Mother, call me Creator or Great Spirit, Yahweh or Allah, but call me yours. For this I am. Call yourself daughter or son, co-creator or friend. But call yourself mine. For we belong to one another.”

Paula Payne Hardin, EdD, MPS, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show when her first book: What areyou doing with the rest of your life? Choices in Midlife was published in 1992. A second edition was released (2018) in audio, digital, and print.  Highlights from A Course of Love was published in 2018. Hardin is also the author of Love after Love: Stages ofLoving (1996).

Hardin directed Midlife Consulting Services and the David K Hardin Generativity Trust in Chicago. Hardin has trekked around the world from the Himalayas to Botswana. Now an Elder, she enjoys kayaking, cats, writing, and her extended family.


Bob Howlett

Program: Emmaus Retreat for Homeless Men in Recovery


This two day spiritual gathering is held at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center twice yearly for men in recovery who are residing in temporary housing shelters located both in the Vero Beach area and in the greater West Palm Beach area, and once yearly at the Pendle Hill Retreat Center for similar residents who are located in the greater Philadelphia area. The retreats focus on an ever deepening relationship with God, the importance of taking care of one's self, and a willingness to serve the greater community.

Certified in pastoral studies as well as spiritual direction, I have been involved in presenting programs, leading retreats for both adults and youth, and giving spiritual direction for almost 30 years. As a former teacher and school administrator, I find organizing as well as leading these various programs a meaningful use of my retirement years. The majority of each year is spent here in Florida, but I do return to the north for the summer months where I am involved in facilitating a men's faith sharing gathering as well as leading the afore mentioned retreat.


Vance Doescher

Program:  Tuesday Buddhist Meditation


I am a retired U.S. Army LTC.  My spiritual journey began in teen years with the reading of “Autobiography of a Yogi”.  I transitioned from Christianity to Judaism in the 80’s and to Buddhism in the 2012.  Early in 2010, I attended a Buddhist Meditation Group at the Center for Spiritual Care and I was drawn to the teachers and the group.  I found my path at that time.  As far as my education goes I have 3 degrees - A.A., B.S., and M.A. 

              The Buddhist Meditation group takes place every Tuesday night from 6 to 7 p.m.  The hour is spent in guided meditation and dharma talks.  We are currently using the book, “Mindfulness”, by Joseph Goldstein as a discussion guide.  The talks embrace numerous paths to awakening with a focus on Buddhist teachings.  Other paths covered include:  Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Native American Spiritualism.  All are welcome as we explore the nature of reality.  The only requirement is an open mind.


Bill James

Programs: Intellect over Emotion

My name is Bill James. My wife and I moved to Vero Beach in 2015. In October 2017, my search for change led me to the Intellect over Emotion meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Center and my close friend, Jim Burkins. Jim founded the meeting in 2012. Jim passed away in December 2018, and I picked up and began facilitating the meeting from that point.

In IOE, we study the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and the program’s 12 steps for change. Our goal is sharing and passing the message of experience, strength and hope to all attendees in search of a new plan for living and spiritual transformation.


Sister Cathy Cahill

Program:  Conscious Contact Retreats Programs On Zoom

Sister Cathy Cahill, OSF is a Franciscan Sister of Allegany with over 30 years’ experience leading retreats. She enjoys being with people on retreat as they open themselves to God’s blessings.  After a career in elementary education as a teacher, then administrator, Sister Cathy trained as an alcoholism counselor at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago.  This led eventually to retreat ministry.  Presently retreat work and spiritual direction are her main ministry as she travels widely to spread the joy found in a relationship with the God who wants a relationship with us.  She is also administrator of The Sisters’ House, a former convent that has become a place where women in recovery can gather for spiritual enrichment.

Sister Cathy leads retreats and days of reflection for parish staffs, school faculties, small faith communities, bible study groups, and any group desiring spiritual renewal.

Many of the retreats that Sister Cathy leads are for people who utilize a 12 Step Program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, NA, GA, etc.  In fact, she comes to the Center for Spiritual Care once or twice a year to lead retreats on developing a closer relationship with the “God of your understanding.”