Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Bishop Celebrates White Mass For All In Healthcare

Bishop Siegel greets attendees immediately following the Oct. 18 White Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral. The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Diocese of Evansville’s annual White Mass on Oct. 18 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. That date marks the Feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.

Members of the Southwest Indiana Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and other healthcare professionals from across the diocese joined the bishop and concelebrants Father Claude Burns, Father Tyler Tenbarge and Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen for the Mass. Deacon Dr. Tony Schapker, an Evansville pediatrician, served as Deacon of the Mass.  Deacons Dennis Hilderbrand, a chaplain at Evansville State Hospital, and John McMullen, a chaplain at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, also assisted.

Dr. Bill Blanke, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Evansville and a family medicine doctor, served as lector. Psychologist Dr. Jim Schroder of St. Vincent Evansville and his family served as gift bearers.

During his homily, Bishop Siegel heralded those in the medical profession as being called by Christ to serve their brothers and sisters in need. He thanked them for practicing “medicine of patience, wisdom and respect.”

The bishop saluted healthcare professionals for the ability to care for persons while dealing with the complexities of healthcare regulations and guidelines. He also thanked their families for the sacrifices they make and tremendous support they provide to all who work in healthcare.

Bishop talked about the difficult times for physicians and others when treatments don’t work – or stop working; when patients ignore advice and/or refuse treatment alternatives; and when treatment plans reach the point where nothing else can be done. He thanked all for their ability to provide compassionate, respectful care in the most difficult of situations.

He also thanked God for “all the beautiful times of healing and hope.” He offered gratitude to all for their work, adding, “May St. Luke guide you, and Mary, the mother of God, watch over you.”

The worship aid included the following information about St. Luke and the history of the White Mass:

About St. Luke

St. Luke was originally a physician from Syria, but became a companion of St. Paul. Between the Gospel that bears his name and the Acts of the Apostles, Luke contributed nearly a quarter of the New Testament. Christian tradition, starting from the 8th century, also states that he was the first icon painter. Luke is believed to have died in Greece at the age of 84.

About the White Mass

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. So named by the color worn by those in the healing profession of medicine, the Mass is celebrated in recognition of the dedicated work of healthcare professionals and to ask God’s blessing upon patient, doctor, nurse and caregiver.