The annual Diocese of Pueblo’s White Mass was held at the Shrine of St. Therese on Sunday, October 20, 2019, with Fr. Michael Chrisman presiding. The White Mass is so named because of the color of the white coats and white uniforms traditionally worn by those in medical, nursing and healthcare professions. In addition, the color white is a symbol in the Church for hope and comfort for those who are ill, injured or hospitalized.
Dr. Kenneth Dernovsek, President of the Sangre de Cristo Guild of the Catholic Medical Association gave the opening remarks and welcome at the White Mass. The White Mass tradition in the United States began in the 1930’s with the development of the Catholic Medical Association, which is now the nation’s largest association of Catholic individuals in health care. The purpose of the organization is to help its members grow in faith and holiness, maintain ethical integrity, and provide excellent health care in the science and practice of medicine while upholding the teachings of the Church. Catholic Medical Association Guilds are in more than 100 dioceses around the nation.
The White Mass honors and blesses all healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, hospital chaplains, pharmacists, dentists, caregivers, ancillary and clerical staff and all others who work in medical offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice and healthcare facilities throughout the Diocese. A Solemn Blessing given at the White Mass included all those healthcare professionals and caregivers throughout the Diocese who were not able to attend or participate in this year’s White Mass.
The White Mass is typically held in mid-October on or near the feast of St. Luke, the beloved physician. Since ancient times, the medical profession has been understood to be a healing profession and since apostolic times, continuing the healing work of Christ for the world. The White Mass is open to all healthcare professionals regardless of choice of religion or faith.
Representatives of the Sisters of Life from Denver participated in the White Mass this year. The Sisters of Life religious group was established in 1991 in New York by Cardinal John O’Connor to create a community of religious women with a “charism of life”, to protect and enhance the dignity and the sacredness of every human life especially the most vulnerable in our society, and to promote new life in Christ, sharing the gifts of God’s love and abundant mercy for every human being. In Denver, their mission includes contemplative prayer, Eucharistic adoration, evangelization and outreach for college students, retreats for women, and hope and healing for women with crisis pregnancies or those who have had abortions.
An application for all healthcare professionals in the Diocese of Pueblo, the Diocese of the Little Way, are quotes from St. Therese of Lisieux, co-patroness of the Diocese: “It is possible to remain little even in the most responsible position.” How? “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.”
Contact Dr. Kenneth Dernovsek at 719-564-4500 for more information about the Sangre de Cristo Guild of the Catholic Medical Association(cathmed.org). Information about the Sisters of Life in Denver is available at sistersoflife.org.
Contributor: Dr. Libby Garcia is a retired physician who practiced in Pueblo for more than 30 years. She is currently the Secretary-Treasurer of the Sangre de Cristo Guild of the Catholic Medical Association.
Photo Credit: Angie Duran