October 21, 2016

White Mass celebrates local Catholic medical professionals

Brie Anne Eichhorn, left, Dr. Casey Reising and Elliott Bedford pose with the awards they received at the Catholic Medical Association reception held at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center after the White Mass on Sept. 29. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

Brie Anne Eichhorn, left, Dr. Casey Reising and Elliott Bedford pose with the awards they received at the Catholic Medical Association reception held at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center after the White Mass on Sept. 29. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin delivered a homily on Sept. 29, he recalled a doctor he encountered at a hospital who was sobbing at his inability to cure a man dying of intestinal cancer.

“He was sitting there weeping and looking at his hands,” the archbishop said. “When he looked up at me he said, ‘Father, they teach these hands to be so skilled, and I could do nothing for him.’ I said, ‘Well, then you must hand him over to someone who can.’ ”

It was a reminder of the desire to heal, while maintaining faith in the ultimate healer who knows best—a message relevant to the medical professionals, students and members of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) gathered for the White Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The date holds special significance to the members of the local St. Raphael Guild of the CMA—Sept. 29 is the Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the healing angel in the book of Tobit.

“The Hebrew name of each of the three angels is really a sentence about God,” the archbishop explained. “ ‘El’ is one of the Hebrew names for God. ‘Micha-el’ is actually a question: ‘Who is like God?’ ‘Rapha-el’ means ‘God heals.’ And ‘Gabri-el’ means ‘God is my strength.’

“Each of the names of today’s three archangels shouts, ‘What I do is not about me. What I do is what God is doing through my agency.’ ”

Referring to the Gospel reading for the day in which Nathaniel expresses faith in Christ after the Lord describes Nathaniel despite only having just met him (Jn 1:47-51), Archbishop Tobin said it is no surprise that Jesus knew his future disciple.

“No human being can ever know us and love us as God loves us,” he said. “What a wonderful thought it is to rest in this evening, that God has and always will love us more perfectly and completely than we can imagine or experience here on Earth. The best is yet to come.”

He explained that, because each person is anointed in baptism just as Christ was, then each person is a priest, prophet and king.

“Because we were anointed a prophet, it means that our life should point to God, should shout God’s power: ‘Rapha-el: God heals. …’

“You will shout God’s power as you care for each person as a precious daughter or son. And you will shout God’s power by your tears, as you hand the suffering and dying to God who loves them, who cares for them, assuring them that the best is yet to come.”

The White Mass, which began to be celebrated in 1932, was resurrected within the archdiocese in 2014.

In that year, Archbishop Tobin appointed Father C. Ryan McCarthy, pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, as chaplain of the Raphael Guild.

“I sat down and talked with them about what we could do to grow in our faith and to celebrate the role that the Catholic Church plays in health care in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana,” said Father McCarthy. “One of the number one things everyone said was we need to have a [White] Mass.

“The purpose [of the Mass] is to ask God’s grace upon the medical community as they serve all those in need. Secondly, it’s to encourage and strengthen those in the medical field. And finally, it’s to celebrate the graces and blessings God’s given us in having such a strong Catholic community in health care.”

Dr. James Scheidler of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis has attended CMA meetings and White Masses for many years—at 77, he has been practicing medicine for 52 years, and is still an endocrinologist for IU Health.

“I’ve always thought that our Lord spent, it sounded like, almost half of his time healing the sick,” he said. “So every time I see a patient I think, ‘The Lord did this almost as much as he did preaching.’ I try to remember that when I see my patients.”

Younger but just as appreciative of the role of faith in practicing medicine is Robert Daze, a third-year medical student at Marian University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis.

“Going to an osteopathic medical school, we’re taught to always treat the whole person—mind, body and spirit,” he said. Daze, who also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, sees the importance of how both his work in his profession and in distributing the Blessed Sacrament benefit “both the patient and the staff.”

During the reception that followed, which was sponsored by Franciscan Health Indianapolis and St. Vincent Indianapolis, the first-ever awards by the St. Raphael Guild were presented.

Dr. Casey Reising, who runs Magnificat Family Medicine in Indianapolis, received the St. Gianna Catholic Physician of the Year Award; Elliott Bedford, director of Ethics Integration for St. Vincent Indianapolis, received the St. Raphael

Non-Clinical Health Professional of the Year Award; and Brie Anne Eichhorn, a nurse and fertility care practitioner at the Kolbe Center in Broad Ripple, received the St. Luke Clinical Health Professional of the Year Award.

Hanna Fleckenstein, a fertility care practitioner, works for Reising. As a first-time participant at the White Mass, Fleckenstein was impressed.

“It’s really neat that they do a special Mass just to identify those in the medical field,” she said. “And it’s nice to be in a group where everyone has a unified purpose and mission.

“It’s such an honor to be surrounded by such incredibly inspiring medical professionals who are living out their faith, including students who are paving the way of Catholic medicine in the future.”

(For more information on the Catholic Medical Association’s St. Raphael Guild or to support their efforts to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine, log on to indycathmed.org, e-mail info@indycathmed.org or write to St. Raphael Guild of Indianapolis, c/o Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, 520 Stevens St., Indianapolis, IN 46203.)


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