Mass, blessing for health care professionals set for Oct. 18

Categories: Around the Diocese

healthcareBy Frank Lee
For The Visitor

They care for the physical and mental needs of others, and now those they serve will show their appreciation at a special Mass and blessing at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph.

All are invited to celebrate the White Mass for health care professionals at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 at St. Benedict’s Monastery; St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler will be presiding.



Mass for Health Care Professionals
When: 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 18
Where: Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph
St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler will preside. A reception follows.



“Within the Catholic Church, there’s been a long tradition of doing Masses for special groups,” said Bret Reuter, director of mission and spiritual care at St. Cloud Hospital and St. Benedict’s Senior Community.

According to the Catholic Medical Association, the medical profession has been understood as a “healing profession” or a way in which to continue Christ’s work.

“The blessing which health care professionals receive at the White Mass calls upon and acknowledges the continued grace of the Holy Spirit to assist us in our effort to be vessels of God’s love and healing to all those whom we serve,” Reuter said.


Similar to a Blue Mass that acknowledges the public service of police officers, the local, inaugural White Mass will recognize the dedicated work of health care professionals.

“The White Mass is a reference to the white coats that physicians wore and most nursing uniforms that were once white,” said Father Thomas Knoblach, St. Cloud diocesan consultant for health care ethics.

The tradition of the White Mass in America finds its origins in the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930s, according to the organization.

“The group of physicians that united tried to practice medicine as an expression of their personal faith and their commitment to the Gospel,” said Father Knoblach, pastor of Holy Spirit, St. Anthony and St. John Cantius parishes in St. Cloud.

According to the Catholic Medical Association, the Mass gathers health care professionals under the patronage of St. Luke to ask God’s blessing upon them and those they care for.

“Oct. 18 is the feast of St. Luke, and St. Luke is known or understood by biblical scholars to be a physician besides being an evangelist and one of the Gospel writers,” Reuter said.

The music at the event will be led by the College of St. Benedict Women’s Choir, and there will be a light reception in the Sacred Heart gathering space following Mass.

“The White Mass celebrates the healing mission of Jesus and acknowledges the efforts of doctors, nurses and all health care professionals as we seek to reflect the healing mission of Jesus in our work,” Reuter said.

Recognition, celebration

The Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict in St. Joseph — whose mission included caring for the sick and elderly — founded CentraCare Health’s St. Cloud Hospital in 1886.

“There will be a special blessing for health care professionals at the Mass,” Reuter said.

October’s inaugural White Mass will be hosted by the diocese, the hospital and St. Benedict Senior Community in partnership with the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.

“We are not recalling that this has been done before in the area, so this Mass in October will be the first of something we intend to repeat every couple of years,” Reuter said.

Father Knoblach said, “It’s an attempt to not only recognize the work and sacrifice of those involved in health care … but also sort of a time to recommit to that vision of caring for those in need in compassion and motivated by faith.”

The Diocese of St. Cloud includes 24 Catholic-sponsored hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living residences.

“The vision of Catholic health care has always been broader than the biomedical model of health care, which simply looks at the patient as a collection of symptoms or problems to be addressed,” Father Knoblach said.

Reuter said of health care professionals, “When we are caring for people, there’s also the spiritual and emotional element of what people may be suffering … and really we are all there to care for the whole person — body, mind and spirit.”