Bishop Thomas John Paprocki concelebrated the annual White Mass for health care professionals at 4 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Paprocki were Msgr. David Lantz, Father Fredrick Chima Mbiere and Father Charles Hart, OFM. All three priests are involved with ministering with people who are in the health care ministry or who are patients at hospitals. Deacon William E. Kessler, the bishop’s delegate for health care professionals, proclaimed the Gospel.
Physicians and health care professionals, in direct patient care or in all roles, were welcomed at the Mass to join in a Catholic expression of gratitude, to thank God for the generous service by all members of the healing community of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The White Mass is traditionally celebrated close to the Feast of St. Luke, Oct. 18, as he is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.
A reception and program followed the Mass, with Father John Doctor, OFM, speaking on “Becoming God’s Narrative of Healing.” Father John has been a member of the Order of the Friars Minor since 1969 and was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1976. He is vice president of Mission and Ministry at Quincy University. He presently is chair of the Honora M. Cullinan Foundation, which awards grants to assist the poor, the marginalized and the forgotten.
In speaking at the program, Father John used the Gospel, lived experiences and even a popular song to encourage about 100 healthcare participants and guests at the White Mass and lecture to be even more, the healing gift of God in the world.
He spoke about how medical professionals bring lived experience, their own narratives into the healing ministry. He used many Gospel passages — like the widow of Nain, the curing of the leper, the healing of the blind man, and the prodigal son — to show how Jesus calls his disciples to bring God’s compassion and love to the kingdom on earth.
Father John then spoke about how the senses are God’s gift to each in the healing ministry. Through the grace of discipleship, he said, “We are called to become non-judgmental persons of compassion, using our senses of sight and touch to be more alive in ministry.”
He encouraged all to choose to allow the Gospel narrative to be woven into the fabric of one’s life as a committed healthcare professional. “Doing this, we can indeed become God’s narrative of healing,” he told them.
At the conclusion of the reception, Bishop Paprocki took a few moments to express his thanks on behalf of all the people in the 28 counties which compromise the diocesan church, for the ministry each medical professional performs.
“Our communities can find healing and wholeness in the work that each of you does for the youngest to oldest in your care,” he said. “The Catholic ministry is a vehicle by which the grace and loving presence of Christ can change brokenness into blessing and despair into hope. Where medicine can enhance life, God is present, in the skills and goodness of all the caregivers. When prognosis is grim or where no expectation for cure exists, God is also present in the caregivers who are a sign of God’s continuing love for all of his creation.”
Deacon William E. Kessler contributed to this article.