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Health care workers gather for annual Mass

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At the annual Mass for Health Care Workers, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge urged doctors, nurses and their assistants not to neglect their own spiritual health as they pursue the healing vocation.

“You are cherished, and sent out every day in the Lord’s name,” the Bishop said in his homily.


“Go forth and travel lightly,” he continued, echoing Jesus’ command in Luke 10:1-9, the Gospel reading. Avoid “fear, anxiety, self-doubt and false independence. Let go. And trust that the One who sent you will provide everything you need.”

The Mass, appropriately enough, was offered at St. Luke Church in McLean Oct. 18 on the feast of St. Luke, patron of health care workers. Pastor, Father David L. Martin, and parochial vicar Father Anthony J. Pinizzotto, concelebrated. About 100 health care workers and their supporters attended.

The Mass and reception were sponsored by the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, which was organized in 2007 and has sponsored the annual Mass since then. The “White Mass” tradition began in the U.S. in 1932, and takes its name from the white lab coats worn by physicians.

Father James R. Gould, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton and the Northern Virginia Guild’s chaplain, said the organization is vibrant and growing and welcomes new members.

Dr. Marie Anderson, president of the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, said the annual Mass has become an occasion both of fellowship and encouragement, especially in a treatment environment that has grown dishearteningly secular.

“Medicine is becoming impersonal; you can treat a person (through machine diagnostics) without ever seeing them, a one-size-fits-all medical practice,” she said.

“The challenge is to see every patient as a person (and that) every person is unique. Our Catholic faith supports that.”

Dr. Miriam Pereira is an obstetrician and gynecologist who works with Dr. Anderson, at Tepeyac OB/GYN, a non-profit pro-life medical practice in Fairfax that provides women's health care consistent with Catholic teaching. She attends the Mass, she said, for spiritual uplift and renewal.

“It’s hard today to practice your Catholic faith and do your job,” Dr. Pereira said.

“People come in and want birth control, for instance, and you have to explain to them that you don’t do that, and here’s why. They sometimes don’t take that well.”

Elizabeth Prat, an administrator in a medical office in McLean, brought up the gifts at the offertory. She said she felt privileged to be included in the celebration, and was gratified by Bishop Burbidge’s reference to his late mother during the course of her final illness.

The Bishop recounted that when doctors, nurses or other medical staff entered or left Mrs. Burbidge’s room, as they did often, she would say, “What would we do without you?”

Health care workers bring a “willingness to listen, to accompany, to support all those entrusted to (their) care,” Bishop Burbidge said. “Indeed, what would we do without you?”

Find out more

Go to novacathmed.org.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018