White Mass honors healthcare professionals, caregivers

By Megan Erbacher

The Message assistant editor

More than 60 healthcare professionals, caregivers and their families gathered Oct. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Princeton for the annual Diocese of Evansville White Mass.

The White Mass, named for the white coats often worn by people in the healing profession of medicine, honors all people working in a healthcare-related field. Family members and those being cared for were also welcome to the celebration.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated this year’s Mass. Concelebrants included St. Joseph Pastor Father Brian Emmick; Father Luke Hassler, parochial vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch, St. James and Sts. Peter & Paul Parishes in Haubstadt; and retired priest of the Evansville Diocese Father Bernie Lutz. Deacon Dr. Tony Schapker, an Evansville pediatrician and parishioner of St. John the Baptist in Newburgh, served as Deacon of the Mass; and Diocesan Director of Worship Matt Miller served as Master of Ceremonies.

Dr. Peter A. Rosario, far right, President of Southwest Indiana Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and Lori Spindler, a nurse and St. Bernard parishioner, served as gift bearers of the annual Diocesan White Mass. This year, the White Mass was hosted by St. Joseph Parish in Princeton on Oct. 29. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Dr. Peter A. Rosario, President of Southwest Indiana Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and Lori Spindler, a nurse and St. Bernard parishioner, served as gift bearers.

Dating back to the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the 1930s, the White Mass is celebrated annually on or near the Oct. 18 Feast of St. Luke, patron of healthcare professionals. The White Mass gathers healthcare professionals under the patronage of St. Luke to ask God’s blessing upon patients, doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, caregivers and volunteers, according to the Catholic Medical Association.

During his homily, Bishop Siegel talked about how St. Luke is credited with writing the Third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, however, St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians always refers to St. Luke as the beloved physician, and so he is considered the patron of physicians and all healthcare workers.

The bishop prayed that medical professionals be guided by the hand of God and sustained by the grace of Christ as they seek to heal the mind, body and spirit of their patients. He values the service they offer to all in helping patients overcome illness, the bishop said, as well as helping people maintain their health.

Bishop Siegel talked about the difficulties of the medical profession, and that many of us are unaware how demanding it is not only in knowledge, skills and the rapidly-changing fields of medical technology but also because of the many challenges in medical ethics and the challenges medical professionals face when they allow their religious faith to influence their medical practice.

Physical healing is important, the bishop said, but so is the kind of healing that comes when a suffering person feels understood and loved, because it requires the medicine of patience, listening and respect.

On behalf of the Diocese of Evansville, Bishop Siegel thanked healthcare professionals for answering the call to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ, and he said his prayers are with them and their families.

The evening’s worship aid included information about St. Luke.

About St. Luke

Saint Luke was originally a physician from Syria but became a companion of Saint Paul. Between the Gospel that bears his name and the Acts of the Apostles, Luke contributed nearly a quarter of the New Testament. Christian tradition, starting from the 8th century, also states he was the first icon painter. Luke is believed to have died in Greece at the age of 84.