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Sunday, 01 November 2015 10:21

White Mass celebrated for health care professionals

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On Oct. 17 Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated a White Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with a reception following hosted by the Office for Marriage and Family Life.

On Oct. 17 Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated a White Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with a reception following hosted by the Office for Marriage and Family Life.

A White Mass is celebrated in proximity to the Oct. 18 Feast of St. Luke, who is the patron saint of physicians, and is offered for physicians, nurses, administrators, allied health professionals and others involved in a healing ministry.

In his homily Bishop Paprocki recalled two women who faced medical issues about 25 years ago: Janet Adkins of Oregon who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and chose assisted suicide with the help of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and Blessed Chiara Bandano, a 17-year-old Italian who accepted her suffering from bone cancer and died with great peace.

"While the circumstances of these two women are not identical, we can see how their stories do bear some significant similarities. Both were faced with what might seem like a hopeless future, and each made a decision regarding how to deal with that future," he said. "Those decisions were ultimately based on how each of them viewed the mysterious and confusing question of suffering and its place in our lives."

Bishop Paprocki spoke of different kinds of suffering, including the suffering of Jesus on the cross and promises from the Sacred Scriptures which give hope in the face of suffering. To the medical professionals he said, "Our celebration of this White Mass is an opportunity for us to recognize your many contributions to the work of safeguarding the dignity of human life by being instruments of God's healing touch to those who suffer.

"Your privileged place of being so close to those who suffer offers you the opportunity to alleviate physical suffering, as well as helping to address the spiritual and emotional suffering that often accompanies physical suffering," he said.

"Patients under your care should benefit from the skills that the Lord has generously given to you in your professional life," he said. "But you should also realize that he has also given you many spiritual and human gifts that, when directed to your patients with love, can go a long way in giving them the encouragement they need in order to persevere through their suffering and see life as a gift."

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Paprocki were Msgr. David Lantz, who is chaplain for the Catholic Physician's Guild/Catholic Medical Association of Springfield and Father Charles Hart, OFM, who is Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at HSHS St. John's Hospital. Serving as deacons were Deacon Bill Kessler, who is the bishop's delegate for health care professionals and Deacon Larry Smith. Father Brian Alford was master of ceremonies.