By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 24, 2013
ATLANTA—Pharmacists Mimi Park, Linda Rozakis and Angela Kim all plan to make attending the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s White Mass an annual tradition.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated the first such Mass for those in health care fields on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. The Mass was held on the vigil of St. Luke the Evangelist, patron saint for the medical profession.
The three pharmacists all work for Emory Healthcare and came to the Mass in their colored scrubs. The White Mass name is for the traditional attire of white coats once worn by most physicians. Park came straight from work in her blue scrubs to attend, while the others coordinated their colors ahead of time.
“I feel the Holy Spirit with us,” said Kim.
“We’ll keep coming,” said Rozakis about the White Mass. A parishioner at Christ the King, Rozakis said that “sometimes we forget” even at work that those giving health care are representing Christ.
In his homily, Archbishop Gregory reminded the doctors, nurses and other health care workers in attendance that they are continuing the work of Jesus.
“You cure, comfort and calm those who approach you seeking medical assistance and help,” said the archbishop. “You share in Jesus’ healing ministry for so many people who come to you—as they once did to Him—out of fear, out of hope and out of trust.”
The Gospel reading for the Mass was from Mark 2:23-28 where Jesus appoints 72 disciples to go ahead of him to every town he intended to visit: “Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”
Archbishop Gregory encouraged medical providers to care for and preserve life at each stage of its development from conception to the closing seconds of natural death.
Once that was assumed, he said.
“Unfortunately, that once universally accepted noble goal has now been confused and in some cases abandoned in the past generation as public sentiments have shifted in reference to your profession from trying to preserve every human life to caring for only those whose life is deemed opportune, or whose life is thought worthy, or whose life is viewed as useful, or whose life is considered desirable,” he said.
The archbishop said those “capricious” categories, which each person might fail to pass at times, should make everyone shudder.
“Medical professionals are always asked to make delicate judgments,” he said. “But those judgments should never ask you to abandon the principles that have defined the healing ministry from Jesus’ time to our own.”
Dr. Ngu Vu of Norcross practices family medicine in a clinic setting. Vu said it was “very nice” of the archdiocese to organize the White Mass. She had previously attended one at a meeting of the Catholic Medical Association and said she would also make it a tradition to attend.
The Catholic Medical Association is having its 2013 conference this weekend in California, with next year’s conference to be held in September in Orlando, Fla. The association works to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in science and the practice of medicine,
The fitting offertory hymn was “Lord Whose Love in Humble Service” with its meaningful lyrics: “Called from worship into service, Forth in your great name we go, To the child, the youth, the aged, Love in living deeds to show; Hope and health, goodwill and comfort, Counsel, aid, and peace we give, That your children, Lord in freedom, May your mercy know and live.”
A dessert reception followed Mass in Kenny Hall and featured “all the foods that you continually tell your patients to avoid,” said the archbishop in his invitation. “I won’t turn you in.”
During the final blessing, Archbishop Gregory prayed that the “talents” of the medical professionals would give “greater glory” to God.
For more information on the Catholic Medical Association, visit www.cathmed.org.