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What is SmartCatholics?

in 60 seconds, here’s what makes this Conferences different:

The Catholic Mental Health Conference

Bringing expert Catholic therapists together to share simple tips in modern psychology – tips to help faithful Catholics live happier, more exciting lives – now!

Mental health issues don’t go away when you ignore them.

On November 21-22, 2020, the Catholic Mental Health Conference began with a range of Catholic therapists and guest speakers.

Together, we discussed and shared tools from modern psychology, and how to find mental health services as a Catholic.

Keep reading…

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Meet clinicians informed by the Catholic faith
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Join a community of Catholics dedicated to understanding the psychological sciences
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Discover the relationship between therapy, spiritual direction, and confession
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Learn practical techniques to improve your life
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Learn how to understand depression and anxiety with the mind of the Church
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Live Q&A’s with Catholic Clinicians who specialize in depression, anxiety, OCD, marriage counseling, child development
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Hear testimonies from Catholics who have overcome mental health conditions
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Find out how to access mental health resources in your area
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Meet and make friends with fellow Catholics on the same journey, with questions like yours
November 21-22, 2020
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Catholic experts & guests
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Live & recorded video

Our compassionate gaze

“The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment”  which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).

“The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.”

Pope Francis,  Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no.169, November 23, 2013.

Welcome Letter from Daniel Johnson

Modern psychology can help Faithful Catholics live happier, more exciting lives – immediately!

Most of us don’t know what to make of modern psychology. We feel leery about the whole thing. And yet, mental health is a massive concern.

Perhaps your family, or someone you know, struggles with a serious mental health issue. Some of us tell them to ‘offer it up’. This creates frustration and anger. A lot of Catholics feel helpless and abandoned. They have no resources to make sense of their concerns.

Psychology has come a very long way from its beginnings.

And its true beginnings start deep in the desert Fathers, saints like St. Thomas Aquinas, and religious communities of the Catholic Church.

Today, Catholic Psychology is grounded in this rich heritage of the Catholic Church’s intellectual tradition. There’s still a problem. The average Catholic doesn’t have the time to become a professional in Aquinas just to stay sane and healthy.

What’s the answer? Is it going to confession more often? Or is it pushing your questions and feelings and doubts and fears into a dark corner, and telling yourself that you’re the problem? That you’re weak?

Absolutely not.

Mental health issues don’t go away when you ignore them. Confession is not the answer to every doubt and fear. Confession is a sacrament of union and forgiveness. You need to be in a healthy mental state to truly appreciate the gift of life, and friendship with Christ and others!

  • What if more people got answers to their deep, burning questions?
  • What if we discovered the interior peace that comes from finding peace in our minds? The kind of peace that our spiritual lives must start in.
  • What if we all knew simple, practical, and Catholic-friendly tools to help you get through your day, change your attitude, and grow in joy?
  • What if we took a moment to accept Christ’s love for us, and show love to ourselves, so that we can share love with others?

We believe it’s all possible. It’s all easy to access. And it’s something everything Catholic should know – your catechism, how to ride a bike, and how to nurture a healthy mental state. (Bikes are optional.)

Who are we? A community of Catholic therapists hosting the Catholic Mental Health Conference.

You’re invited! Join us, along with a community of excited, faithful Catholics looking for sanity and joy in our scrambled, modern world.

We can find it together.

Topics we will cover:

  • Overcoming sexual abuse
  • Using the imagination to overcome shame based trauma
  • The relationship between the soul and the body
  • The power of journaling
  • How controlling your thoughts can influence your feelings and behavior

 

Meet the speakers

Press a face to learn more, see details, and their talk topic!

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    Daniel Johnson

    Daniel is a Catholic therapist and life coach serving California in a hybrid telehealth format, occasionally seeing clients face to face in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. He has worked extensively with the High Schools of the Archdioceses of Los Angeles supporting youth and adults experiencing a wide range of depression, trauma, and emotional disturbances.

    Meet Daniel

    Topic: 3 ways to start Journaling today

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        Micole Amalu

        Micole Amalu is the founder and main content creator for the Face of Mercy, a mental health advocacy organization for the Catholic Church. The call to found The Face of Mercy comes out of her own experiences with anxiety and depression as a Catholic, as well as walking with countless young women and fellow missionaries in her time with FOCUS (2014-2017). The goal of this mission is to equip the Church to better reflect the Father's mercy to those struggling with mental illness. Meet Micole

        Talk: Wholeness & Holiness: What we can learn from saints with mental illness
        The saints can serve as role models for us in how to live with mental illness. From their lives we can see that our mental illness is not the whole story, learn how to bear this cross well, and discover how to find our place in the Body of Christ.

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            Sue Baars

            Sue Baars is a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist in Irving, Texas, where she operates her private practice, In His Image Christian Counseling. Sue has worked extensively in the field of counseling since 1986 in both hospital and outpatient settings, and focuses her work on the integration of the Christian anthropology of St. Thomas Aquinas with the treatment of a variety of emotional & spiritual problems, among them Emotional Deprivation Disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and scrupulosity. She is also a popular presenter at Catholic conferences around the country, and has been a frequent guest on EWTN’s Women of Grace. Meet Sue

            Talk: Building Resilience & Confidence from the Inside Out

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                Julieanne Bartlett

                I married my husband, Seth, at the age of 42. Having suffered from prolonged singleness for 42 years, getting married was a battle of epic proportions for me. I know the hopelessness and despair that comes from wanting to be married and not being able to find a suitable helpmate. I feel called to share the good news that God desires your marriage more than you do and he will help you get there. I know this to be true because I experienced his help myself!
                Meet Julianne

                Topic: Despair and Prolonged Singleness

                "Many singles desire marriage and feel hopeless about meeting a suitable spouse. I married my husband at the age of 42, and understand the unique challenges singles who struggle with this issue face. I offer a fresh perspective that leads to God and to hope."

                "While I am not a mental health practitioner, I do have a background in looking for hope and truth! I am super excited to share what I have found with folks who may be struggling down the same path I had been on."

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                    Fr Nicholas Blackwell

                    Fr Nicholas is a Carmelite Friar in the Catholic Church. He was born and raised in rural Michigan, and has a farm boys heart. Now, he live and minister in NYC! He is a monthly columnist for the Catholic Stand. Meet Fr Nicholas

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                        Clare Behe

                        Clare is an espresso-fueled millennial slowly becoming acquainted with the idea of God as a loving Father. When she's not cuddling with her beloved senior cat or dreaming up the perfect tattoo fonts she's enthusiastically discussing the intersection of feminism and Catholicism. This is her first presentation on mental health. Meet Clare

                        Topic: Life in Black and White: A Journey to Validation in My Own Goodness

                        "DBT, much like Catholicism, provides a balanced and holistic way to handle intense emotions and be more effective in day-to-day life. I was raised Catholic and tend to assign moral values to everything around me even when it isn't appropriate (i.e., I am "good" or "bad" rather than saying an ethical action is "good" or "bad."). DBT helped me to move beyond that without excluding Faith-based morality."

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                            Dominic de Souza

                            Founder of SmartCatholics. Loves history, Catholicism, movies, science, & mystics.

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                                Patricia Di Rito

                                After struggling with debilitating depression and not getting well with the medical model of treatment, Patti began an integrative style of counseling to help clients fully heal. Patti's practice includes addressing the body (nutrition, balancing genetics, exercise and sleep), the mind (balancing the brain and treating trauma) and the soul (prayer and meditation). She is the founder and owner of Holistic Healing Atlanta.

                                Meet Patricia

                                Topic: Food and Mood: What Does Food Have To Do With My Mood?

                                The connection between diet and mood is rarely recognized but food can be either nourishing or toxic to our bodies and brains. Depression and anxiety can be inflammation caused by food, rather than a disease of the brain to be treated with pharmaceuticals. It's time to get back to JERF...Just Eating Real Food!

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                                    Jess Echeverry

                                    Jess Echeverry is a traumatic life experiences survivor. Her experience includes child sexual abuse/rape, homelessness, same sex attraction, abortion and suicide attempts. After falling in love and marrying a Catholic, she experienced profound healing and converted in 2008. She nows spends her time sharing the beauty of the faith through her testimony; most especially the fullness of healing our Church provides through the Sacraments.

                                    Meet Jess

                                    Topic: The Fullness of Forgiveness

                                    "As Catholic Christians, we are called to the fullness of what Jesus offers us. Secular mental health treatments help to bring us to a place where we have forgiven ourselves enough to live with the trauma we have endured, but true Christian forgiveness brings us full circle and provides for us Perfect Forgiveness through Jesus Christ and true freedom!"

                                    "I believe that our Church lacks the synergy Jesus Christ brought to the world. What I mean by this is that the Church has always been the place for people to go when they are in need. But today, when someone is in need, they go online and Google it and some secular or government agency/organization is usually the first place they are required to go. The steps of our church should be an immediate symbol of Christ's love and mercy for us."

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                                        Faith Hakesley

                                        Faith Hakesley was born and raised in Massachusetts where she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, she worked in the Psychology field until the birth of her first child. Over the course of her life, she has overcome many traumas including rape by a Catholic priest, the death of a brother, and has lived through cancer as well as a serious heart condition. Faith strives to be an advocate for survivors, break the stigmas associated with trauma, and encourage others to find hope through their faith.

                                        Meet Faith

                                        Topic: Finding Peace and Healing After Sexual Abuse

                                        "Sexual abuse is a plague in our world and goes on everywhere. Listeners need to know that life after sexual abuse is possible and that peace and healing can be achieved by including their faith."

                                        "As a survivor of sexual abuse, I am passionate about helping others on their healing journeys."

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                                            Allison Gingras

                                            Allison is the creator and author of Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women, published by Our Sunday Visitor. Allison shares her Catholic Faith and always evolving relationship with Jesus with laughter and honesty, and how it is lived in the everyday, ordinary of life!
                                            Meet Allison

                                            Topic: Seeking Peace

                                            "Following the tenets of the Catholic faith provide us all the grace we need to regain, maintain, and sustain our peace, and help overcome many of our day to day anxieties. [Mental Health] is an important topic, one of the most healing aspects is knowing you are not alone in how you feel."

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                                                Sam Guzman

                                                Sam Guzman is a husband and father, author, and podcaster. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his wife and four children.

                                                Meet Sam

                                                Topic: Internal Family Systems as a means for spiritual growth

                                                "Different parts of us are often at war. One part wants to pray while another wants to watch TV. One part of us wants to be chaste while another wants to turn to pornography. Often, we approach our desires as evil and seek to destroy or suppress them. But what if there were a different way? What if we could bring harmony to our inner life with compassion instead of violence? I believe Internal Family Systems therapy shows us how we can do this through prayer and meditation. "

                                                "Catholics have often been skeptical of the mental health field, sometimes for good reason. Yet, the need for mental health interventions has never been greater. I look forward to discussing mental health through the lens of Catholic teaching. "

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                                                    Adam Paterno

                                                    My name is Adam Paterno and I am a lay minister advocating for mental health support through scripture, prayer and community outreach. We have built "The Kingdom Mindset Community". We are a collaborative effort between lay ministry leader Adam Paterno and Judy Wong, director of Catholic Action Montreal (CAM). The goal of this group is to continue the discussion about the importance of mental health awareness on a Parish and Archdiocese level and to offer ongoing care and hope through our monthly meetings, Facebook page and online events and retreats; whatever avenue the Holy Spirit permits to help demonstrate that Jesus as discerned via the Word of God, is the foundation of our emotional and spiritual wellness.

                                                    Meet Adam

                                                    Topic: Simple & Effective Self-Care Tips - Overcome A Negative Working Environment

                                                    "The discussion of mental health and wellness needs to be part of the Church's pastoral reach and therefore, the discussion needs to be broached and put out there to engage change. Thanks for having us!"

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                                                        Allison Ricciardi

                                                        "Many people are in negative patterns and it often boils down to bad decisions. The reason for that is that our disordered emotions can get in the way. I take a look at the importance of our emotions, how they work and I outline some principles that can be used to make healthier decisions.""I love teaching people about the relevance of what our faith teaches, especially in regard to our emotional lives. "

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                                                            Matthew Sciba

                                                            I help people overcome the greatest challenges of their lives, challenges that many people say are impossible to overcome. I live in East Texas with my beautiful wife, our three kids, and an ever-changing number of critters. Thanks for stopping by!

                                                            Meet Matthew

                                                            Topic: Feeling Together: Emotions at work in you and your relationships

                                                            "The battle du jour is one against the family. Many families are ill equipped to help their children form strong, healthy attachments to themselves, and don't realize it until it's too late."

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                                                                Christina Semmens

                                                                I am an author, speaker, coach and host of the Say Yes to Holiness podcast.

                                                                My primary goal is to inspire, encourage and accompany people to SAY YES to the life that they were created for and become the living, breathing, wonder-working saint God created them to be.

                                                                Meet Christina

                                                                Topic: 4 Hacks to Living a Happier Life Immediately

                                                                "It is important to take away any "stigma" there may be associated with mental health, especially in Church communities. Also, my focus is upon holistic formation of the person, which then opens up the conversation about how can I go about that in the most prudent and responsible way."

                                                                "The Mental Health Conference is a wonderful opportunity to draw attention to, and inspire, encourage and accompany others in discussion of the vitally important aspect of caring for the whole person--exactly what Christ did AND calls each one of us to do as well."

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                                                                    Sophia Swinford

                                                                    Sophia is the Founder and Executive Director of Catholic Mental Health, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to embracing mental health and social justice as part of our Christian mission. She holds a degree in Theology & Religious Studies from St. Mary's University in London, UK, and speaks as a peer advocate on mental health and spirituality.

                                                                    Meet Sophia

                                                                    Topic: Reframing Mental Illness in the Spiritual Life

                                                                    "I have experienced mental illness my whole life, and I have deeply struggled with whether holiness was possible for me as someone with mental illness. I have learned, however, to reframe my understanding of what mental illness means for my spiritual life in order to draw closer to the Lord. I receive questions on this from people all the time in my peer advocacy work, and I hope to be able to bring this to your conference."

                                                                    "As a mental health advocate and a Catholic, I am passionate about the importance of mental health advocacy in the Church and about what people with mental illness have to offer the body of Christ! I am the founder of a nonprofit, Catholic Mental Health, and I am excited to contribute with other Catholics to this discussion and to share what I have learned from my experience."

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                                                                        Maria Spears

                                                                        Maria Spears is an entrepreneur, musician, speaker, Self-Worth Strategist and Mindset Coach. She inspires people and gives them the tools to take their life to the next level by living a life of integrated wholeness in Jesus Christ! Meet MariaPTSD: A New Way of handling stress, anxiety and suffering
                                                                        If you've ever felt that you were a victim to your thoughts and emotions and just felt stuck during moments of anxiety or suffering, then this talk is for you. Taking the acronym 'PTSD' Maria suggests a new way of understand those letters so that you can take back your God-given power and live more fully a life of freedom in Him.

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                                                                            Kate Walsh-Soucheray

                                                                            Kate is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and received her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Saint Mary’s University. In addition, she has a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of St. Thomas and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from St. Catherine University. Kate is currently completing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University.

                                                                            Meet Kate

                                                                            Topic: Self-Care During a Time of Uncertainty

                                                                            "I believe in my Catholic faith to provide a beacon of hope and light in this world. I am so honored and so delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this event to help other Catholics find support and encouragement during this time of uncertainty and confusion."

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                                                                                Erin Van de Voorde

                                                                                Erin is founder and strategist at Davara, providing human formation through coaching from an integrated and whole-person anthropology. A native of Wisconsin, Erin studied Politics and Theology at Ave Maria University. Her research, project management, coaching, formation, and higher-education experience forms her approach to strategic coaching. She resides in Virginia with her husband and three young boys. Meet Erin Talk: Distracting Thoughts & Living in the Present Moment


                                                                                Learn two simple and practical ways for moving away from distraction and entering into the present moment. Intentionally living in the present moment helps us open to grace, enter into prayer, and moves our attention from self focus to other focus. Discover the simple exercise I do and recommend to my clients to set up their day.

                                                                                "From my experience in human formation and coaching, I have noticed a huge trend in distraction. This comes both from the external distractions we face in modern society, and also from thoughts within. This is also one of the reasons my clients name that is a roadblock to prayer, to deepening relationships with their spouse and children, and from productive work. The simple tools that I mention in my talk have been practical and simple ways to intentionally re-engage with the present moment, especially when practiced over time."

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                                                                                  The SmartCatholics Directory

                                                                                  Read their details, find all the links to their websites, and download any freebies they’re sharing!

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                                                                                  Meet your hosts

                                                                                  Meet the Sponsors

                                                                                  Would you like to sponsor this event? Learn more →

                                                                                  "one of the most important messages needed"

                                                                                  Two things that many young people and leaders don’t speak about in the same sentence. However, I believe one of the most important messages needed to be shared with today’s Catholics.

                                                                                  Theo Vecera | dbylc.com

                                                                                  "an incredible lineup"

                                                                                  This is an incredible lineup of Catholic mental health professionals. Any Catholic looking to improve their mental health and to flourish in their humanity should check out this conference!

                                                                                  Stuart Cook | Vitus Counseling

                                                                                  "provide healing in mental health"

                                                                                  Our Catholic faith can serve as a protective factor and provide healing in mental health. For this reason, it is so important to talk about the two together.

                                                                                  Marines Novoa | The Catholic Psychologist

                                                                                  "Encouraging all listeners to attend to good self-care"

                                                                                  “I am so happy to sponsor Dr. Kate Walsh Soucheray in her efforts to encourage all listeners to attend to good self-care, particularly in this stressful time.  Please feel free to reach out to her, or any of our other excellent counselors who work for Christian Heart Counseling, who are all dedicated to serving you in Christ’s Holy Name.”

                                                                                  William Rush | Christian Heart Counseling

                                                                                  Frequently Asked Questions

                                                                                  How can I watch the videos?

                                                                                  The videos will be sent to the email you registered with. You’ll be able to watch 10 of them for free during the 7 days before the live event.

                                                                                  I can’t attend the event. Will there be replays?

                                                                                  Yes, all the recordings will be stored in a beautiful, on-demand library that you can watch any time. Access the replays is $25. 

                                                                                  Is there a community?

                                                                                  Yes, this event is launching an ongoing group within the SmartCatholics community. Get formation, feedback, answers, and new friends!

                                                                                  Questions? Leave a comment! →

                                                                                  Be a Magnetic Catholic!

                                                                                  Lonely Catholics risk becoming bystanders.

                                                                                  We need  to regroup, make friends, and turn into first-responders! The SmartCatholics community helps us be magnetic Catholics in the modern world. 

                                                                                  If this is your first time hearing about SmartCatholics, read the About Page to learn more.

                                                                                  We're a mission Church, united to Pope Francis’ call to bring the joy of the Gospel to every corner of the world - starting with ourselves.

                                                                                  Catholic brands we love:

                                                                                  Why you should join this community:

                                                                                  We need somewhere online that's ours, where we can

                                                                                  • Uplift and inspire each other, and make new friends
                                                                                  • Swap stories and ideas (not just advice!)
                                                                                  • Be free of toxicity, trolls, and ads. (Bye bye, Facebook. We love you, but...)

                                                                                  We need more than just information. We need insights we can trust. We need friendship to help us live lives of hope and meaning.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Who this community is not for:

                                                                                  For any community to mean something and take action, there must be focus. And our community exists for a clear goal: unity, friendship, and formation.

                                                                                  Pope Francis is a source of unity for us. Please don't enter if you reject Pope Francis and the 2nd Vatican Council, thrive on impending apocalyptic prophecies, polarized politics, and constant argument. 

                                                                                  There are plenty of other groups out there for you! Discussion on all topics is welcome, but bad manners aren't. Ever. Offenders are warned or removed. God love you!

                                                                                   

                                                                                  "I wanted to see what [SmartCatholics] was about, as I love being Catholic and all about Catholicism."

                                                                                  "I was actually surprised at the warmth and spirituality of the messages and people on it. It’s keeping me closer to God.

                                                                                  I used to always go on Facebook but now it’s very shallow compared to SC. So I think it’s providence me being on SC! It’s what I’ve been searching for and has brought me home!"

                                                                                  Paula E.

                                                                                  "I have been doing a ton of poking around on Smart Catholics today and this is what I see. "

                                                                                  “We are all united in Christ with many different abilities that make this platform beautiful. We have the recruiters, prayer warriors, counselors, technicians, comforters, teachers, and students.

                                                                                  "Many different branches coming and going back to the main source just like the Celtic symbol… Dominic, you have created something beautiful.”

                                                                                  Melinda K.

                                                                                  "This initiative is really cool

                                                                                  "I am impressed by the quality and range of discussion and the app is quite versatile and user friendly. Keep going; this is a contemporary way to engage Catholics to come forward! Awesome work!" Adam P.

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