Bishop celebrates Mass for healthcare professionals


On Sunday, Oct. 24, Bishop Joseph A. Galante celebrated the 12th annual White Mass at the chapel inside Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden.

The ceremony celebrates the medical and health care professionals in the Diocese of Camden and recognizes their ministry as intimately tied to the church’s mission to serve the suffering, marginalized and downcast members of the human family.

Bishop Galante’s homily pointed out the suitability of Sunday’s Gospel passage that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 8:14). He spoke of the implicit relationship between “humbling oneself” and the virtue of compassion, manifested in the work of the doctors, nurses and administrators there present.

From the latin cum passio, literally “to suffer with,” the bishop explained that those in the medical community who walk alongside and share in the burdens of those most in need must manifest in their lives this wonderful and necessary trait.

He also joked that he was especially excited to celebrate the Mass because he makes such frequent use of local doctors and health care professionals as he gets older. (He noted with all sincerity that his doctors and nurses remain in his daily prayers for all they do for him and others.)

The Mass, which is hosted by the pastoral staff at Our Lady of Lourdes, always closes with the presentation of the St. Luke the Evangelist Award by the diocese and the South Jersey Catholic Medical Association.

Recipients are chosen because they embody in their personal and professional activities the Catholic values and principles which are rooted in faith.

— Dr. Catherine Michon displayed for years her care for others in various volunteer programs and ministries, including her work overseeing sight screening in the Laurel Springs, Parkview and Magnolia public schools, as well as those for Our Lady of Grace School, Somerdale.

— Josephine Heisler is an emergency room nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes and is currently in the process of obtaining her BSN through Immaculata University. In addition to living out her baptismal promises in her vocation as a nurse, she has continued to volunteer in the efforts of last year’s St. Luke Award winners, Vincent and Peggy McDermott, at the Bergen Lanning Clinic.

— The third recipient, Joanne Thomas, has directed the Options for Women Pregnancy Center which seeks to offer medical and counseling services to women in a “time of crisis and indecision.” The work of the center, including free ultrasound examinations, pregnancy and STD testing, and access to physical exams, has resulted in successfully bringing nearly 90 percent of “abortion vulnerable” children who are seen there to term.

The guest speaker, Father Lawrence Polanski of St. Isidore the Farmer, Vineland, spoke on the notion of caring for others in his talk, “A Journey in Service, A Journey in Faith.”

A blessing of the hands also took place for those engaged in medical careers. All of the day’s events were summed up in the recessional hymn which quoted the text of the Old Testament Book of Micah: “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”