October 6, 2015 // Local

St. André Bessette Guild promotes faith in medicine

SOUTH BEND — Amid a field increasingly void of a respect for the dignity of the human person, the newly founded St. André Bessette Guild of the Catholic Medical Association promotes the Church teaching in the medical field, providing medical professionals with faith, formation and fellowship that fosters the practice of Catholicism amid the practice of medicine.

Chartered April of 2015, the guild operates under the direction of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and the leadership of guild president Dr. John Rice, pediatrician, and vice president Dr. David Parker, obstetrician gynecologist. Father Glenn Kohrman of Holy Family Parish in South Bend serves as the chaplain. The St. André Bessette Guild of the Catholic Medical Association is both a community and a resource for Catholic medical professionals in the Michiana region, educating on Church teaching, fostering a network of supportive individuals, and providing opportunities for spiritual enrichment.

The guild is under the patronage of St. André of Montreal, a Congregation of Holy Cross brother who was known for his gift of healing. A humble doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, Canada, St. André spent his days in the simple service of greeting visitors, inviting them to always “go to Joseph!” with their intentions. He would bless them with oil from his oil lamp, and individuals often found healing. Brother André received visitors in such large numbers that he built a church to St. Joseph where visitors could go to pray. St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada, is now one of the largest churches in North America. St. André was chosen as patron due to his gift of healing and because this area is both named for St. Joseph and filled with a Holy Cross presence.

Dr. John Rice, president, is a pediatrician who believes in the antecedence of the importance of life and foundation of faith in the medical field. A lifelong Catholic, Rice shares that, “My own experience of raising seven children and practicing pediatrics has helped me appreciate the beauty of life from its very beginning and in all its forms.” For Rice, the practice of faith cannot be separated from the practice of medicine: “The Catholic physician must first have an active prayer life and be close to the sacraments.”

Guild Vice President Dr. David Parker, obstetrician gynecologist, echoes the importance of having a strong faith while working in the medical field. In the field of reproductive health, Parker recognizes that the mainstream OB/GYN field is saturated with contraception and sterilization. He shares, “I felt pregnancy and childbirth was such a beautiful life event that, despite the seeming barriers to becoming an obstetrician gynecologist (committed to the teachings of the Church), I wanted to pursue it anyway.” He believes that a respect for life begins with a respect for a dignity of the human person and that “an important aspect of the dignity of the human person is his or her procreative potential.”

Parker continues, “All healing comes through Christ, and as medical professionals we have a real opportunity to be the healing hand of Christ in the world. It can be easy to get lost in the ‘mechanics of medicine’ and forget that each patient is an encounter with the suffering Christ. We believe having a strong sacramental life is essential to living out our vocation as medical providers, because it transforms medical practice from simply treating physical illness to being the healing hand of Christ. Being a member of the Catholic Medical Association can help us to live out our faith in our medical practice.”

The guild serves the Michiana area and is open to all medical professionals and to anyone interested in healthcare. Students are also welcome to join the group. Joining the Catholic Medical Association is not a requirement of joining the guild; although, it is certainly encouraged.

Meetings allow for members to spend time in prayer together, and include discussions of the practice of medicine in light of the Catholic faith. Rice shares, “It is important for Catholics in the health professions to know that they are not alone; that there are others who are also committed to integrating the faith into their professional lives. We have much to learn from each other as we share the challenges each has encountered in living the faith within the world of medicine.”

As the guild continues to grow, events will include educational conferences, service opportunities and activities for students and community members. They are in the process of planning a morning reflection in November.

The guild encourages all medical professionals to attend the South Bend White Mass, which will be held at St. Pius X, in Granger, on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres will be served after Mass, with a 7:15 p.m. panel discussion titled “End of Life Rituals and Traditions. … Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives.” Panelists include Imam Sirajuddin, Holy Cross Father Tom Jones and a Jewish rabbi. For reservations, contact Maria Toth at 574-335-2351 or [email protected].

For more information, upcoming events, membership information, and more, visit the guild website: www.cathmedsb.org.

Individuals in the Fort Wayne area are invited to check out the Dr. Jerome Lejeune Guild of the Catholic Medical association: www.fortwaynecma.com.

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