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Bishop Fisher Catholic Life Features

Bishop recognizes hard work of medical community at White Mass

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On Super Bowl Sunday, Bishop Michael W. Fisher honored the heroes who gain yards in hospitals by blocking illness and tackling disease. The Feb. 13 White Mass, held at St. Joseph Cathedral, recognized the work of doctors, nurses and all medical personnel.

Calling it a privilege and joy to celebrate the White Mass and anointing the sick, Bishop Fisher thanked those in the medical field for their service.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher anoints a member of the St. Joseph Cathedral congregation following the annual White Mass. The Feb. 13 Mass honors medical professionals. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“I am truly grateful for your dedication, your commitment and your sacrifice for the good of our communities,” he told the nearly packed cathedral.

The bishop mentioned that he has had several nurses in his family. His grandmother had a nursing career in 1920s and 1930s, a sister-in-law is a pediatric nurse in Baltimore, and a niece serves in a Texas emergency room.

“My father wanted me to be a doctor, but I had other plans as you can see,” the bishop joked.

He then shared a story of his own experience with medical professionals during a bout with

diverticulitis, an infection in his intestines, 10 years ago. The bishop recalled being scared of the needles used at the start of the procedure. His nurse, Kathy, told him she would be by his side during the entire surgery. Patrick, the doctor, oversaw the procedure. Teri, another nurse, carefully administered the necessary medicine.

“As they gave me their names and introduced themselves to me, I began to feel that God was there in that room with me, taking care of me,” the bishop said, adding he has siblings named Kathy, Patrick and Teri.

“They were healing hands. They really kept me feeling that I was in the hands of angels and would feel the healing touch of God,” the bishop said.

On the heels of the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, the bishop acknowledged the increasing difficulties that the hospital workers have faced in recent times. 

“This past year has been an especially difficult time, I know, for all of you,” he said. “I know with the (Catholic Health) strike, the pandemic, and the vaccine restrictions. Yes, I think we can truly call you heroes as we call our teachers and educators heroes. Those who have been out there on the front line. But we also know, you are not superheroes. Health care workers are quite human. All of you are as vulnerable to the Covid virus as the rest of our community. But you continue to do your best to care for your people.”

Following the Mass, Bishop Fisher offered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to several members of the congregation.

The Mass was coordinated by Dr. Gloria Roetzer, president of the Catholic Medical Association of Buffalo, and concelebrated by Msgr. Robert Zapfel, the bishop’s health care representative.

Medical professionals gathered at St. Joseph Cathedral on Feb. 13 for a special White Mass honoring doctors, nurses and medical technicians. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

The tradition of the White Mass in the United States finds its origins in the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930s. From its inception, the medical profession has been understood as a healing profession, a way in which Christ’s work continues upon the earth. The White Mass, so named by the color worn by those in the healing profession of medicine, gathers health care professionals under the patronage of St. Luke to ask God’s blessing upon the patient, doctor, nurse and caregiver alike.  

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