GREEN BAY — Bishop David Ricken has a soft spot for healthcare workers.
His own mother spent a career as a nurse, he told those attending the St. Gianna Molla Guild of Northeast Wisconsin-sponsored “White Mass” for healthcare professionals held Sunday, March 6, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
It was shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor 75 years ago that Bishop Ricken’s mother joined the military and was assigned to care for the injured in Hawaii. After her military service, she would spend the rest of her career in hospitals and in nursing home care.
Bishop Ricken reminisced during his homily that his mother often talked about how medicine and religion should work together.
“You are ambassadors of Christ,” he told the gathering, asking healthcare workers to hold true to the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Church.
“Be a minister of mercy” when serving the sick, said Bishop Ricken. And for those patients who face death, he encouraged healthcare professions to help them to be well-prepared as they look to reunite with Christ. “You have a very weighty responsibility,” he said.
Bishop Ricken also presented a relic of St. Gianna Molla to Dr. Robin Goldsmith, who is president and co-founder of the St. Gianna Molla Guild of Northeast Wisconsin. Those in attendance were invited to venerate the relic following Mass.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla (Oct. 4, 1922, to April 28, 1962) was an Italian pediatrician. Already the mother of three children, Molla was diagnosed with a fibroma while carrying her fourth child. Though she did opt to have the fibroma removed, she continued with the pregnancy knowing that it could result in her own death.
Her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was born on April 21, 1962, which was Holy Saturday of that year. St. Gianna died seven days after giving birth. She was canonized as a saint in 2004.
The relic of St. Gianna, which included bits of her hair and clothing, was given to Bishop Ricken by the saint’s daughter, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, now 53 years old.
The St. Gianna Clinic, located at 1727 Shawano Ave. in Green Bay, is named in honor of the saint and was opened in June 2015 as a Catholic-based family medical clinic open to people of all faiths.
Its mission is to provide Catholic medical care from conception to natural death, while cultivating a deeper understanding of the church’s scientific, medical and moral ethics.
The clinic will serve as the home for the St. Gianna relic and will be available to patients for veneration.
The White Mass was part of a weekend of reflection by healthcare providers sponsored by the St. Gianna Molla Guild of Northeast Wisconsin. Last fall, the Northeast Wisconsin guild was honored nationally with the 2015 Outstanding Guild Award.
On March 4, a mini-retreat was held by the guild. Steve Ray spoke on “Swimming Upstream: Staying Faithful in a World Gone Awry.”
Ray is a convert to Catholicism who joined the church on Pentecost Sunday 1994. He is a biblical scholar who speaks on the historical roots of the Catholic faith. He has written numerous books and leads international pilgrimages.
Fr. Quinn Mann, whose current ministry is with Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE) at St. Joseph Formation Center in Baileys Harbor, spoke on “Teens at Risk: Encountering God’s Love and Mercy” following the White Mass.
He told healthcare providers they can be ambassadors of mercy to young people who too often face risk and crisis in their lives. He asked adults to recognize that they too face the same challenges of risk and crisis in their lives and that they need to slow down and be present to young people.
Fr. Mann talked about how participants in CYE experience prayer, work, study and time for silence and reflection combined with outdoor activities.
One of the greatest challenges young people face, Fr. Mann said during a question and answer period, is finding their identity and being confident in who they are. He asked adults to help young people know they are loved by God.
“The point of this weekend is to invite medical professionals and interested members of the community to come to a better understanding of how faith impacts all of medicine,” said Goldsmith, who is an anesthesiologist. “True medicine addresses body, mind and soul. We want to help all people live life to its fullest — physically, mentally and spiritually.”
She emphasized that anyone interested in current issues in healthcare as they relate to the Catholic faith is welcome to join the St. Gianna Molla Guild, which holds regular educational and social events at various locations throughout the diocese.
Besides memberships for medical professionals, associate and affiliate memberships are available as are memberships for clergy. See sgmgnew.com for more information.