White Mass honors medical professionals as Christ’s healing presence in midst of pandemic

By Melissa Vlach

Photo Credit: Dennis Callahan

Doctors, nurses and health care workers attended the White Mass on Oct. 18 at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco. Held on the feast day of St. Luke, patron saint of physicians, the Mass provided a time to acknowledge and support the work being done by those in the medical professions, particularly during the current pandemic.

Named after the color traditionally worn by doctors, the White Mass began after the development of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) in the 1930s. The San Francisco Guild of the CMA helped to organize this year’s Mass and had leaders present to talk with those in attendance after the Mass.

“We provide fellowship, education, spiritual guidance, and hope to be a light of hope and truth in a health care system that is often hostile to the dignity of persons,” shared Dr. Michel Accad, president of the guild.

Father Justin Gable, O.P., who is the chapter’s chaplain, celebrated the Mass and gave a homily on the “heroic vocation and ministry to the sick and suffering” practiced by those in the health care fields.

Speaking about Christ’s own healing ministry, he described how St. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes this healing work because of the saint’s own perspective as a physician. “St. Luke is one of my favorites because there is something particularly compelling and consoling about seeing Christ in the role and activity of healing.”

However, he emphasized that for Christ, healing the body alone was not enough. Rather, Christ’s healing was directed to the entire person—body and soul. Those in the health care professions are called to similar work within their vocation.

“You doctors, nurses and workers in health care are able to imitate Christ in a very special way as healers of both body and soul. Now, of course, you tend directly to bodies, but through that attention you care for persons and show the love of God to a world that so desperately needs to see and feel that love,” he said.

The medical professionals in attendance received a special blessing for protection and guidance in their work.

A special donation of a floral arrangement was given anonymously for the Mass as a “tribute to our heroic doctors, nurses and frontline workers.”

The CMA provides a gathering place and resources for Catholic health care professionals. Anyone who would like to join the San Francisco Guild is invited to contact Dr. Accad at [email protected]. More information can also be found at https://www.cathmed.org/.