A physician’s life in the Field of Dreams

Anne Marie Amacher
Dr. Tim Millea, president of the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities, sets up a slide presentation for Dr. Robin Goldsmith during a presentation Oct. 16 at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — “We just need to have faith,” Father Thom Hennen told health care professionals during his homily at the White Mass Oct. 16 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. He is the vicar general for the Diocese of Davenport and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport and presided at the Mass. His concelebrants were chaplains for the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities: Father Joseph Sia, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, and Msgr. Mark Merdian, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island, Illinois. Deacon Bob Shaw of St. Paul the Apostle Parish assisted.

Father Hennen encouraged the health care professionals to put their “trust in Jesus the Divine Physician. Do pray, daily, fervently for your health and avail yourselves to the sacraments of the church. Trust that God has done, and can yet do, marvelous things.”

Christ heals and sometimes in extraordinary ways “that we cannot adequately explain. You have probably seen this at different times in your work. But most often Christ heals through you. Through your gifts, knowledge, compassion, your tireless efforts, willingness to place all of that at his feet to become his instrument.”
Father Hennen said he believes “We will safely cross to the other side of this turbulent sea, but only if we are possessed of this living, active, loving faith, only to the degree that we cooperate with God the giver of all life and allow ourselves to be instruments of Christ’s healing in the world.”


Following Mass, Dr. Robin Goldsmith of Green Bay, Wisconsin, spoke on “A Physician’s Life in the Field of Dreams…God’s Dreams.” A native of Dyersville, Iowa, the setting for the Field of Dreams movie, she grew up in a faith-filled family who believed in using the gifts God gave them. She knew at age 5 that she wanted to be a doctor. “Like the movie, there was a voice in my head (telling me) to serve God and his people.”

She attended undergraduate school at the University of Notre Dame with many other Catholics who attended Mass and were pro-life. Then she attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “What a culture shock from Notre Dame,” she said. “In that first week I found out not everyone was pro-life. That was a shock to me.”

Goldsmith and other Catholic medical students started a Students for Life group on the Madison campus. They prayed, talked and debated with others in front of the school. She returned to her “beloved Iowa” for residency in anesthesiology at the University of Iowa and a fellowship in obstetric anesthesiology. “It was so pro-life,” she said.

Her husband, a rheumatologist, decided they should move to Wisconsin for their practices. “I was restless. I knew I was called to do something else. I was still searching.” In 2012, she was invited to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. She had attended the walk several times before, but wasn’t interested in going this time. However, “the Holy Spirit would not leave me alone.” Although rooms were booked, a woman invited Goldsmith to stay with her. The experience was powerful and the trip inspired Goldsmith. The two women talked all night about faith and life.

About a week later, Goldsmith received a call from someone, referred to her by the woman she met, who said he thought medicine was going in the wrong direction. “I think you’re the doctor I’m looking for,” he told Goldsmith. She then approached Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay with a proposal to start a pro-life medical clinic.

Two weeks before her meeting with Bishop Ricken, she sat in adoration, and the name Gianna came to her. “But I didn’t know who she was.” Goldsmith’s research led her to the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. The Catholic, Italian pediatrician was diagnosed with a tumor while pregnant with her fourth child. She refused an abortion and hysterectomy and later died from complications after her daughter’s birth. She was canonized a saint in 2004.

Goldsmith met with Bishop Riken and within five minutes was on board with the idea. The bishop suggested the name Gianna for the clinic, a name that came to him in prayer. “You won’t believe this. That’s what I felt,” Goldsmith told Bishop Ricken. He also asked Goldsmith to start a guild for Catholic health care workers. “It was the Holy Spirit at work,” she said.

The St. Gianna Clinic in Green Bay, which opened June 29, 2015, treats patients from conception to the end of natural life, she said. “It is a blessing to be a part of this.” Today the clinic is “bursting at the seams” and needs to add pro-life doctors and staff.

St. Gianna’s daughter, Gianna Emanuela, also a physician, has visited the clinic, Goldsmith said. “The Holy Spirit speaks and moves in all of us.” Like the movie, “If you build it, they will come. Go the distance. Is this heaven?” “God’s love comes through us. It’s not always easy, but he will help you.”

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