Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told health care professionals they are called to be “instruments of God’s healing love” and “witnesses to the sanctity of life” during a White Mass celebrated Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.
“In all you say and do, you are to affirm the life and dignity of your patients, including the tiny infants in the womb of their mothers as well as the frail, elderly patients approaching the end of their earthly life,” Bishop Rhoades said during his homily. “And you do so by recognizing that every one of your patients, including the disagreeable ones, is a child of God, destined to share the glory and joy of the Creator.”
Most of the approximately 75 physicians and health care professionals who attended the White Mass also gathered afterward for a dinner at nearby St. Mary, Mother of God Church, where guest speaker Dr. Brandon P. Brown discussed “Caring for the Least Among Us: Fetal Medicine.”
The Mass and dinner were organized by the Dr. Jerome Lejeune Catholic Medical Guild of Northeast Indiana. A White Mass and dinner for health care professionals also took place in the South Bend area Sept. 26 at St. Pius X Church in Granger.
The goal of a White Mass is to inspire physicians and all health care professionals to imitate Jesus Christ, said Dr. Andrew Mullally, a Dr. Jerome Lejeune Catholic Medical Guild member and the Indiana state director of the Catholic Medical Association.
“Catholics have a unique perspective on health care matters,” said Mullally, whose independent Credo Family Medicine practice is located in Fort Wayne.
That includes more than just concern for people at the beginning and ends of their lives, he said. It also involves areas such as social justice, including caring for people in jail and those with disabilities.
This year, the Fort Wayne White Mass took place on the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist, who was a physician as well as a disciple of Jesus and a friend of St. Paul, Bishop Rhoades reminded worshippers during his homily.
“We invoke his intercession today for all of you who are part of the health care profession,” he said, noting St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.
St. Luke also was the author of two books of the Bible: the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, he noted
The two Bible books St. Luke wrote share a strong theme of Jesus as the merciful Savior and of the need for merciful love, the bishop said. They include stories of the healing of people by Jesus and the Apostles.
“Of course,” the bishop said, “Luke emphasizes that the physical healings accomplished by Jesus all point to the healing of the soul — Christ healing us from the disease of sin, from the devil and from death. It is God’s mercy that heals us, that frees us from the corruption of sin and death.”
Bishop Rhoades said that when he thinks of the health care professions, he thinks of two works of mercy: visiting the sick to care for their illnesses and to help them heal, and comforting the afflicted to assist patients in recovery and to improve their well-being.
“I thank you for living your Catholic faith in your profession by being instruments of Christ’s merciful love in your work,” he said.
After dinner, Brown discussed the many advances in technology and how that has changed the practice of fetal medicine.
Brown is an assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. He is a founding member of the Fetal Center at Riley Children’s Health hospital in Indianapolis and has taught in the departments of philosophy and medical humanities and health studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Imaging technology now allows doctors to see life from the earliest moments of a pregnancy, Brown said. Doctors also can use new technology to try to treat a baby’s health problems while the child still is in the womb, or to prepare for surgery or treatment immediately after birth.
At the same time, Brown emphasized, doctors and health care professionals must ensure new technology serves them and patient care rather than allowing themselves to become servants of new technology.
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