Medical students at UC Davis with professor Dr. Art de Lorimier between students, far left is SF Guild CMA president Dr. Steve McCurdy. With Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordilone at White Mass reception. (Photo by Dennis Callahan)

Archbishop: Catholic medical workers follow ‘a sacred calling’

Annual White Mass held Oct. 20 at Mater Dolorosa Church

By Valerie Schmalz

Calling their work “a sacred calling,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone addressed Catholic medical professionals gathered for the traditional White Mass for Medical Professionals at Mater Dolorosa Church in South San Francisco.

“You my brothers and sisters have this privilege and high call to enter people’s lives at a very vulnerable time but a time of great openness and possibility to the spiritual,” the Archbishop said in his homily at the Oct. 20 White Mass.

“Thank you for answering this holy call as a Catholic health care worker healing mind and body with the selfless love of the Mother of God, with the compassion revealed by Her Son on the cross,” the Archbishop said. “May He grace you with wisdom, compassion and strength you need to bring healing in mind and body and spirit to His people who suffer. For His glory and the salvation of your souls and those who suffer illness in mind and body.”

Archbishop Cordileone was joined by a number of hospital chaplains who concelebrated the Mass with him, several priests and pastors who are regulars at local hospitals while not official chaplains and Vicar General Father Patrick Summerhays, and Mater Dolorosa pastor Contemplative of St. Joseph Father Vito Perrone.

Priests who concelebrated White Mass with Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. 2nd from right is Deacon David Mees, seminarian at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University. (Photo by Dennis Callahan)

The Mass was followed by a reception in the parish hall where the Archbishop spoke briefly. Also speaking about their ministries were representatives of the San Francisco Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Bella Primary Care and the Northern California Clinic of the Order of Malta. The three organizations cosponsored the reception which was organized by the Archdiocesan Office of Human Life & Dignity.

Gia Brack, of RETA Trust which manages ethical health insurance for Catholic dioceses, and Elizabeth Surban of Kaiser Permanente, attended the Mass. Far left is Ms. Brack’s daughter. (Photo by Dennis Callahan)

Among those attending were representatives of RETA, the health care umbrella that oversees ethical health insurance for archdiocesan employees, a representative from Kaiser Permanente, and a group of medical students and one of their professors from UC Davis Medical School.

The White Mass, so named for the color traditionally worn by those in the healing profession of medicine, gathers health care professionals under the patronage of St. Luke to ask God’s blessing upon the patient, doctor, nurse, and caregiver alike. In the United States, the White Mass tradition was begun by the national Catholic Medical Association in the 1930s.  Each year the Archdiocesan White Mass is held near the Oct. 18 Feast Day of St. Luke, evangelist and physician.

Photos by Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco