Archbishop lauds Catholic medical professionals for their Christ-like ‘comfort of presence’

By Valerie Schmalz

Catholic medical professionals are standing in the breach against what Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone called ‘very much the throwaway culture,’ tangibly demonstrating Christ’s love by caring for those ill in body and mind.

In his Oct. 14 homily at the White Mass for Catholic Medical Professionals, Archbishop Cordileone praised and encouraged medical professionals, telling them Jesus brought “the comfort of presence. You understand this” because of your vocation.

In his homily, the Archbishop stressed that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s fiat “brought the healing of our Savior to the world.” To save us, Jesus “freely suffered all the consequences of sin,” including human suffering and pain and also the spiritual – “betrayal, rejection, insult and ultimately death.”

“He suffered all we suffer,” Archbishop Cordileone said. He noted that the California Catholic Conference’s Whole Person Care Initiative, offered as an Archdiocesan ministry, offering wraparound care at the end of life is the Catholic answer to the evil of assisted suicide.

It is a response to the attitude that “there’s a problem, throw it away. There is a person, throw it away,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

The Mass in the mellow light of the wood-paneled Mater Dolorosa Church was enhanced by the music of the Benedict XVI Institute ensemble. Among those concelebrating with Archbishop were San Francisco Veterans Administration Hospital chaplain Father Mario Blas, Mater Dolorosa pastor Father Vito Perrone, COSJ, and the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Father Patrick Summerhays. The Mater Dolorosa Knights of Columbus and numerous altar servers assisted.

The Mass also included a special blessing of the Catholic medical professionals by the Archbishop. All those present received the memento of a prayer card with the blessing.

In addition to a tremendous spiritual shot in the arm from the Archbishop to those in medicine, the Mass and reception that followed were an opportunity for Catholic doctors, nurses and paraprofessionals to pray together and socialize. It was the first time since the onset of the pandemic that the White Mass included an in-person reception.

The San Francisco Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and Bella Health + Wellness co-sponsored the reception. Bella is a new independent Catholic primary medical clinic, located in San Francisco, which is supported by Archbishop Cordileone who serves on its board.

 “Bella is here to provide care to people of all walks of life….because everyone who is seeking life affirming health care is underserved. We are in a battle to restore our birthright. What is our birthright? Catholic health care,” said Bella Health + Wellness executive director Dolores Meehan in a short talk at the reception.  She noted that with the sale of Seton Hospital in 2015, the Bay Area lost the last Catholic hospital offering maternal care, and that Bella is stepping in as a free-standing clinic to fill the gap as well as offering Catholic health care throughout all stages of life.

“Bella is here to provide life-affirming support to mothers in crisis pregnancies,” mothers and fathers with an unborn child with a disability – “care that doesn’t include terminating the life of their child,” natural treatment for infertility, and care for those at the end of their lives, she said.

For more information about Bella:

For more information about the San Francisco Guild of the Catholic Medical Association:

Valerie Schmalz is the director of the Office of Human Life & Dignity, Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Photos by Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco.