First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

White Mass Recognizes Service of Healthcare Workers
By DAN PIETRAFESA
Chris Sheridan
Healthcare workers were blessed by Cardinal Dolan at the annual White Mass hosted by ArchCare at St. Patrick’s Cathedral June 26. ArchCare, the continuing healthcare community for the archdiocese, cares for frail and vulnerable people of all faiths throughout the archdiocese.

Gloria Espinoza celebrated one of ArchCare’s biggest annual events by being honored and blessed with fellow healthcare workers at the White Mass with celebrant Cardinal Dolan June 26.

The registered nurse, who is an ArchCare transition coach on Staten Island, attended the morning Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with colleagues and fellow registered nurses Linda Howard and Michele Carlson.

“We were honored to be asked as nurses to come here because they were praying for all healthcare professionals,” said Ms. Espinoza, a parishioner at St. Aldalbert on Staten Island. “The message is healing and helping others. So, hopefully, all the people will get together in their community and they will help more outreach programs.”

ArchCare, the healthcare system of the Archdiocese of New York, organized the White Mass for an estimated 500 people.

“The White Mass is one of ArchCare’s biggest annual celebrations,” said Scott LaRue, president and CEO of ArchCare. “This is the one day a year we set aside to recognize the incredible work that the care members in the healthcare industry do to help those most in need. We take an opportunity to pray, have His Eminence lead us in Mass and reflect on the enormous contributions that these individuals make to those who are most vulnerable.”

Cardinal Dolan praised the healthcare workers at the start of his homily, before reflecting on the appropriateness of one of the readings for the occasion.

“This gives me the provincial opportunity to praise God for the gift of the magnificent healthcare apostolate that we have here in the Archdiocese of New York under the umbrella of what we call ArchCare,” the cardinal said. “Jesus is at every Mass; we know that in His word and the most holy sacrament. But something tells me he’s particularly smiling today as healing was such an important part of his ministry.”

In the reading from the Book of Genesis, God reveals Himself to Abraham and tells Abraham He will accompany him on his travels to carry His message, mercy and healing.

“In a way my brothers and sisters, we’re heirs to that solemn promise,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We are descendents of Abraham and we testify that the promise of God has come true in the work that you do. God continues through his people, you and me, to bring his healing and his light and his hope. We are in a way validations of that high promise the Lord made to Abraham.”

The White Mass carried an additional meaning for the workers as a healthcare bill was being finalized for a vote in the U.S. Senate. On June 27, the vote was delayed until after the July 4 recess.

LaRue asked healthcare workers to pick up after Mass a prayer, “Faith Together for Care, What We Owe To One Another, Matters,’’ written by a multi-faith coalition of healthcare organizations June 23. He encouraged the healthcare workers to join all religious communities and faith-based healthcare organizations across the nation to recite the prayer in unison at 10 a.m. June 28.

“The foundation of many of the programs that serve the most vulnerable in our society is in jeopardy and (the White Mass) does have a special meaning because it gives us that opportunity to both pray and reflect on what those impacts are going to be,” LaRue said. “If they saw the faces of the people we serve, it might help them reflect before they vote.”

Ismay Vernon, an ArchCare homecare nurse in Westchester County attending her first White Mass, was hoping for the best from Washington. “The healthcare bill impacts us at homecare, too, so coming together here we pray for betterment for all,’’ she said. “I hope the healthcare bill works out for our patients.”

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