Catholic Free Press

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  • Oct
  • 27

Ministers of healing recognized for their work with the sick

Posted By October 27, 2011 | 12:39 pm | Lead Story #3
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By Tanya Connor

A doctor-turned-priest encouraged healthcare professionals in their ministry, and asked them to oppose moves to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts, at the 14th annual White Mass Oct. 20.
Four people received awards at the Mass, held in St. Vincent Hospital’s Our Lady of Providence Chapel.
One was a surprise.
Msgr. Peter R. Beaulieu, the hospital’s director of Mission Integration and Pastoral Care, was called forward after the three honorees listed in the program had received their awards. Bishop McManus blessed Msgr. Beaulieu and gave him a plaque for his years of assisting the (arch)dioceses of Massachusetts with medical ethics and for his pastoral care at St. Vincent’s and, previously, Memorial Hospital.
The other award recipients were: Robert Giasi, a retired UMass Medical Center anesthesiologist who has volunteered in Haiti and at St. Anne’s Free Medical Program in Shrewsbury; Ann Connolly, a nurse practitioner who works in palliative care and intensive care at UMass Memorial Medical Center and who is chairwoman of the communications subcommittee for the intensive care units, and John Burque, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at Harrington Hospital in Southbridge for years.
The awards are given annually in honor of St. Luke the physician, on behalf of the diocese, with the assistance of the St. Luke Society and the Guild of Our Lady of Providence.
“It was a surprise to me,” Msgr. Beaulieu said of his award. Material he was given ahead of time did not include his name among awardees, he said. He said he is no longer on the committee choosing awardees.
Apparently Msgr. Beaulieu wasn’t the only unsuspecting awardee.
“I was totally surprised when they asked me to come,” Dr. Giasi said of his invitation to the White Mass. In Haiti he worked in some unusual places, including shacks and tin-roofed churches, with no machinery, conditions more primitive than when he started his profession, he said.
Mr. Burque was apparently delighted with his award.
“He’s been waiting for this all week,” his wife, Gloria Burque, said after Mass. “He’s so happy. He’s gotten a lot of awards, but this is the best; it’s from the Church.”
“The reason I really do all this is because the Father says, ‘My Son has given himself, and I expect the same from you,’” Mr. Burque said of taking the Eucharist to the sick.
Father Myles Sheehan, provincial of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, directed his homily to healthcare professionals.
“I’d like you to imagine what it was like for the disciples who followed Jesus to hear these stories 30 years later,” he said, referring to the day’s Gospel about Jesus healing the paralytic whose friends lowered him through the roof. (Lk 5:17-26)
“Now I ask you to remember why you became a doctor, why you became a nurse, why you went into pastoral work,” Father Sheehan urged his listeners. He suggested it would be great to make people walk, but encouraged them in their daily work of doing the best they can. He spoke of bringing healing even when they can’t cure.
The heroes of the Gospel were the paralytic’s friends who brought him to Jesus, he said, and told his listeners to allow others to bring them to the Lord when they get “beaten up” by patients or politics in medicine.
“Let’s each of us celebrate our own call as women and men in health care,” he said. “Think about God’s call in your own life. … Allow that fire of his love to come back. …” It’s exciting to see the idealism of the young; sometimes it’s not as much fun to be with older doctors, he said.
His geriatric specialty was among his most satisfying work, said the former dean of Loyola University of Chicago Medical School. He asked listeners to oppose with firmness and respect moves to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is never a “healing gesture.” He cautioned them not to make it something Catholics are “against,” but to work to improve palliative care that is not sufficiently available.
At the end of Mass Bishop McManus praised the homily and mentioned the “ominous petition” to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts. Before awarding $66,644 in St. Vincent Healthcare Grants to representatives of 34 organizations in the atrium after Mass, he again decried physician assisted-suicide.
“We are all stewards of the gift of life,” he said.
Speaking of the grants from the St. Vincent Healthcare Fund, he said, “This evening is not about money. This evening is about all of you … who are ministers of healing.”
The fund was started with $1.6 million the St. Vincent Development Foundation raised to assist non-profit health care organizations, before St. Vincent Hospital was sold to OrNda Healthcorp in 1996. At that time the foundation ceased, and it was determined that the diocese would receive the funds to support healthcare in the community.
Grants were awarded to the following:
Problem Pregnancy – Ultrasound Testing, $2,000; RSVP Worcester Area Volunteers – Holiday Eating for Diabetics, $500; Catholic Charities – Children’s Angel, $500; Catholic Charities – Special Health & Nutritional Needs Program, $1,000; Dismas House – Restorative Healthcare Initiative, $2,500; Radius Healthcare Center- Alzheimers Educational Expo, $1,000; Mary, Queen of the Rosary – Family Wellness Program, $1,500; St. Mary Healthcare – Music Therapy, $1,000; St. Mary School, Worcester – School Nurse Program, $2,500; Pernet Family Health Services – Maternal Child Home Visits, $4,000; Alzheimer’s Association – Connecting Caregivers Helpline, $1,300.
Community Healthlink – Emergency Health Care, $1,500; Nazareth Home for Boys – Professional Nursing Services, $2,400; Worcester Division of Elders – Senior Center Podiatry Clinic, $1,500; Auburn Council on Aging – Rides for Health, $1,200; Visitation House – Staff Training/Resident Life Skills, $2,000; SPRED – Motorized Chair Lift, $750; Catholic Charities – Providing Peace of Mind & Hope Program, $1,000; Ministry for Retired Priests – Healthcare Assistance, $3,500; Southeast Asian Coalition – Health Education Workshops, $2,000; Spanish American Center– Health Talks, $1,000; YWCA – Encore After Breast Cancer, $1,000; Spectrum Health Systems – Behavioral Health Integration Project, $1,729; Catholic Restoration Apostolate with St. Vincent Hospital Center for Women & Infants – Infant Car Seat Program, $1,000.
VNA – Elder Health Clinics, $1,500; Diocesan Healing & Prevention Office – Safe Environment Program, $1,000; Children’s Friend, Inc. – Carriage House Grief Support Center, $1,500; Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. – Adaptive Equipment Solutions, $1,500; Auburn VNA – Adult Day Program, $550; St. Anne Free Medical Program, $5,000 plus supplemental grant, $4,000; Catholic Restoration Apostolate with St. Vincent Hospital Maternity Dept.– Breast Pump Program, $1,500; St. John Parish – Free Clinic, $750; Veterans, Inc., $2,000; Our Lady of the Angels School – Health Office, $2,500.