By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — On the feast of St. Luke, by legend and tradition a doctor, Bishop Martin Amos celebrated a White Mass for health care professionals and students in Christ the King Chapel on the St. Ambrose University campus.
The Mass was celebrated Oct. 18 with members of the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities, area health professionals and students from area colleges involved with health care.
Bishop Amos noted that Jesus had many titles, including “divine physician.” He said that “25 of the 37 miracles Jesus performed were of healing, which along with the non-healing miracles such as multiplication of the loaves and turning water into wine are certainly signs of his divinity.” But the healing miracles involve spiritual healing as well.
St. Mark, in his Gospel writings, seemed to have expected the Lord to return soon. By the time St. Luke wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, “it seems to have become evident to him that the Lord would not be coming back immediately.” How the community uses that time between the first and second coming of Christ is very important, Bishop Amos said.
The introduction to the pastoral care of the sick, for example, notes that the concern Christ showed for the bodily and spiritual welfare of those who were ill continues in the Church in its ministry to the sick . . . the family and friends of the sick, and doctors and others who care for them have a particular share in this ministry of comfort.
“So this corporal work of mercy to visit the sick is a continuation of Christ’s concern and ministry.”
Bishop Amos shared a poem by St. Teresa of Avila about how Christ has no body now on earth but yours. No hands but yours. No feet but yours.
The bishop said, “If we are going to truly be the hands and feet of Christ, we need to be configured to him. If you are to be the eyes and hands and heart of Christ, you must know him.”
Prayer is essential, Bishop Amos said. “How each of you prays and when you pray is open to your particular temperament and God’s grace. But that you pray is essential in this ministry if yours is to be more than a job or profession – but a real ministry.”
Luke had a concern for the poor, the materially poor and those in ill health. “Put people ahead of your schedules. If you have the eyes and heart of Christ, the extra minute, the word of comfort, the smiles will go a long way.”
When all is said and done, the bishop said, “Healing is God’s work and we are only the instruments in the hands of God – necessary instruments, but instruments no less.”
Following Mass, John Brehany, who served as executive director and ethicist of the Catholic Medical Association from 2006-14, spoke on “Is There a Future for Catholics in Health Care?”
The evening before, Brehany spoke to a group of medical professionals at a dinner.
In 1991 Brehany taught at a seminary in Oregon. That state began the process to make assisted suicide legal in 1992 and passed legislation in 1994. “I was teaching ethics in the seminary. The deep truths I was teaching were being fought out right in the public square.”
After completing his PhD in bioethics from St. Louis University, Brehany served as executive director of mission services and ethics at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, Iowa. There he was responsible for mission integration, ethics consultation and education, pastoral care and community benefit ministry program.
He hadn’t heard of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) until he received a call in 2006 asking him to become its executive director.
At a CMA conference in Chicago in January 2007, he met Dr. Clem Cunningham, a now retired physician from Rock Island, Ill. There Brehany learned of the hopes and dreams of the CMA and about the handful of guilds that were left. With a decline in the number of medical societies and other medical groups that medical professionals are leaving because of various issues, the CMA has stepped up to help foster more guilds. The St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities is the 88th one approved in the U.S. The most recent guild, formed in Washington, D.C., is the 90th one, he said.
“We are here to call people together and to support one other. To bring life to the public square. We are here to protect life from beginning to end. We are here to learn and live out our faith through our work.”
Brehany encourages medical professionals to join the guilds to work together, build relationships, to give service, to get further education and to be witnesses. “Keep growing in your faith. Look at the needs in your community. Keep building a culture of life in medicine.”