White Mass celebrates ministry of health care professionals

Bill Brewer Diocese of Knoxville, Health, News

Bishop Richard F. Stika distributes Communion to Sen. Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge pharmacist and state senator representing Oak Ridge, during a White Mass Oct. 17 at Church of Divine Mercy. Photo by Bill Brewer

Bishop Richard F. Stika distributes Communion to Sen. Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge pharmacist and state senator representing Oak Ridge, during a White Mass Oct. 17 at Church of Divine Mercy.
Photo by Bill Brewer

Invoking the blessing of the Holy Spririt and the wisdom of St. Luke upon those serving in the health care profession, Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated a White Mass for medical professionals in the Diocese of Knoxville Oct. 17 at the Church of Divine Mercy.

Bishop Stika told the congregation, numbering about a hundred, that Jesus wishes to use them, and all of us, as instruments of peace, health, compassion, and mercy.

“In this Church of Divine Mercy, our mission is to trust in Jesus, knowing that he wishes to use all of us as his instruments of peace, and health, and friendship, goodness, and compassion, and charity,” Bishop Stika said. “I once saw the definition of love as caring about another person more than you care about yourself.”

He said love is caring about people all around us, even people we don’t know, which is what Pope Francis shows the world through his message – care and concern for other people.

“Today, as we celebrate the White Mass, it’s just a reminder to all of us that you, in one way or another, are an extension of the hands, face, and the voice, and the heart of Jesus. If you really take your ministry as people who are involved in health care, whatever that might be, do you do it for the money? Or is there something deeper than just a profession,” the bishop asked.

Bishop Stika then asked them if their ministry had more to do with practicing compassion, mercy, and the presence of Jesus, of God.

He reminded them that Jesus’ ministry was focused on two vital actions along his journey – education and healing.

“Of all the people involved, the people who are physicians, who are nurses, and all the different classifications, including those who clean the hospitals and clinics, and those who make donations to clinics like our St. Mary’s mobile clinic, all these people are involved in the health ministry and the ministry of Jesus; the ministry of mercy. It is this ministry that reminds us to think about another person more than we think about ourselves,” the bishop said.

The tradition of the White Mass in the United States originates from the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930s. From its inception, the medical profession has been understood to be a healing profession, a way in which Christ’s work continues on earth. The name of the Mass is taken from the color worn by those in the healing profession and is under the patronage of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians.

Father William Gahagan and Father Jerry Tully concelebrated the Mass. Deacon Frank Fischer assisted. Bishop Stika thanks Sister Mariana Koonce, RSM, the medical director of the diocese’s St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, for her and her staff’s efforts to bring free health care to the uninsured and underinsured in East Tennessee.

Following the Mass, Sister Mariana hosted a luncheon featuring Dr. Barbara Harty-Golder, a lawyer and physician, who spoke on physician-assisted suicide.