Diocesan White Mass brings local health care professionals together for worship, education

Friday, Sep. 26, 2014
Diocesan White Mass brings local health care professionals together for worship, education Photo 1 of 2
Julie Bolick, a dietician; Catherine Stokes, M.D.; Joseph Yost, PhD; and Maureen Condic, PhD, renew their promises to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. IC photos/Christine Young

SALT LAKE CITY — The Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, celebrated the second annual diocesan White Mass, where he gave a special welcome to health care professionals at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Salt Lake City Sept. 21.
“I’m grateful to Drs. Dominic Albo and Catherine Stokes, and to Veola Burchett of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Family Life Office, for taking the leadership role in developing the Catholic Medical Association [in Utah]. Dr. Natalie Rodden, who initiated the White Mass and the Catholic Medical Association, is away at the National Medical Association convention” in Florida, the bishop said.  
The traditional White Mass began in the United States when the National Catholic Medical Association was formed in the 1930s. It is celebrated on a day close to the Feast of Saint Luke, which is Oct. 18. Saint Luke is the patron saint of physicians. The Mass was so named for the white coat worn by those in the medical professions.
“Today we welcome among us and celebrate those who practice the healing profession: doctors, nurses, health care workers; and we acknowledge the ways in which you reflect God’s love,” Bishop Wester said in his homily. “We salute you today, we pray for you that you might remain to fulfill that healing profession and that you might see yourselves as medical instruments of God’s call.”
Bishop Wester then led the health care professionals in a renewal of promises to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church and to recommit themselves to be instruments of Christ’s peace, healing and love.
Following the Mass, which was concelebrated by Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, St. Vincent de Paul pastor emeritus, was a talk on stem cell research, presented by Dr. Maureen Condic, associate professor of the University of Utah School of Medicine Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy.
“Dr. Condic has been a wonderful presence in our diocese and in our state, especially giving witness to the sacredness and sanctity of human life,” Bishop Wester said. 
Condic addressed stem cell research and also some of the confusion associated with this topic. Heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease cannot be cured by stem cell replacement, she said. She put stem cell research in a broader context to help people understand not only science and medicine, but to understand it within the broader picture of society and treatments.
“There are a lot of ethical issues that are raised by stem cell research, some of which are very controversial, such as the rights of patients versus the rights of an embryo, but also many of which are not,” Condic said. “Stem cells are any cell in the body that divides to generate one cell that replaces itself and one cell that is destined to become something new. Stem cells exist at all stages of life. The controversy comes from how they are obtained.”
Condic said that embryonic stem cell research is not the best use of public funds for serious and long-standing scientific reasons, and that ethical concerns are raised by their use. 
“These are problems that most people from different walks of life and different backgrounds in political views and religious views could get behind,” Condic said. 
Condic concluded by saying “there can be a consensus, maybe not on everything, but who can disagree with the fact that we shouldn’t waste money and women’s health should not endangered? This should not be turned into a religion versus science debate.”  

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