Catholic physicians pack St. John Seminary for White Mass

BRIGHTON — Over 160 attendees packed the St. John Seminary Chapel Oct. 24 for the annual White Mass honoring physicians. Archbishop Seán O’Malley celebrated the Mass and attended a reception afterwards, which included a speech by Harvard Professor Mary Ann Glendon on the role of the laity.

The Mass, held annually in October, is celebrated on the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians. The term “White Mass” is taken from the white vestments worn on the Feast of St. Luke. The archdiocesan Guild of St. Luke, an organization of Catholic physicians, sponsored the Mass.

A number of priests concelebrated the Mass, including Msgr. Timothy Moran, chaplain of the Guild of St. Luke, and Dominican Father John Farren, rector of St. John Seminary.

In his homily, Archbishop O’Malley spoke of the prominent position that the healing arts have enjoyed in the history of the followers of Christ. He said that Jesus commissioned his 72 disciples to go forth and heal the sick and that countless followers have continued to do this, including St. Francis of Assisi, who began his ministry caring for lepers. Archbishop O’Malley went on to state that caring for the sick is one way of serving God and, in doing so, physicians are called to be “in solidarity with the sick.”

Dr. David Kennedy and the St. Elizabeth Medical Chorus provided music for the Mass and throughout the evening.

Following the Mass, a reception was held at the seminary. Dr. Helen Jackson, president of the Guild, introduced the many medical students in attendance while, in his address, Dr. Gerald Corcoran, past president of the Guild and treasurer of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), urged them to take every opportunity to “integrate their spirituality with their healing skills.” They should ask God for the grace to do it effectively, he said, and look to their St. Luke’s Guild locally and the CMA nationally for instruction on how to do it.

Dr. Corcoran pointed out that while Mother Teresa saw herself as “a pencil in the hand of God, writing love letters to the world,” the current “culture of death” in this country is using physicians to deliver services such as abortion and euthanasia.

Dr. Jackson then presented the St. Martin de Porres Award to Dr. E. Joanne Angelo, a local psychiatrist and a principal resource for Project Rachel, a reconciliation service for women who have undergone abortions. Dr. Angelo, who ministers to those women, stressed how important it is for women who have had an abortion to seek and accept God’s forgiveness.

Prof. Glendon, a law professor at Harvard University and member of several pontifical commissions, spoke of the disturbing habit of many modern day Catholics, who accept prejudicial behavior against themselves. She conducted a virtual tour of an imaginary portrait gallery of historic personalities who have displayed attitudes of anti-Catholicism over the years.

Starting with the Pilgrims, who came seeking religious freedom for themselves, but not for others, and continuing to the present day where those faithful to Church doctrine, especially on the life issues, find themselves characterized as unfit for any public office. Her stories ranged from discussing the Know-Nothing Party, who were instrumental in the burning of the Ursuline convent in Charlestown in 1834, to recent Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who “got over his KKK-fueled prejudice against the black race, but never stopped hating the Papists.”

The Guild of St. Luke of the Archdiocese of Boston is a 91-year-old organization of Catholic physicians who meet periodically to discuss moral and ethical problems in the practice of medicine.