I sit down for the third time today in a meeting room to tell yet another family their loved one is dying and will probably not make it back home.

The patient I have been taking care of for years is getting to walk his daughter down the aisle; praise God the treatment worked!

A patient’s husband embraces me and thanks me as we say the final goodbye and watch her being laid to eternal rest.

I see the sunlight shine on a patient as he walks out of the hospital; having defied all odds, he is reunited with his family once again.

As physicians, we rejoice, mourn, pray and sit in silence with our patients on a daily basis. We are therapists, sisters/brothers, mothers/fathers, sons/daughters, neighbors, mediators, healers, pastors and friends all rolled into one. We enter this professional journey for the love of working and helping other people, curiosity in pursuit of knowledge, research and love of teaching. Most of the time this profession gives us much more than we can ever repay it.

For Catholic physicians, however, medicine is more than a profession. It is a vocation — a divine call to manifest God’s sacrificial love for others and the Church by fulfilling one’s own commitment and obligations in medicine. It is our duty to bring faith and medicine together in order to uphold the dignity and truth of the wholeness of the person we seek to heal.

Physicians — the persons writing your scripts, ordering your tests, always seemingly running behind — are the same people who have been late to family dinners, missed out on holidays, fallen asleep agonizing over their daily decisions, trying to uphold their faith in a profession with ever-growing demands on them.

How can we help physicians recapture the true nature and joy of their vocation in Christ in a world trying to dismantle the union of the body and soul?

One answer is fellowship.

As the Catholic dictionary describes, fellowship is the body of the faithful bound together by a common faith in Christ,

common worship, and common allegiance to the Church’s divinely established authority. In fellowship, physicians and other healthcare professionals can find a place to be grounded, a place to recharge, learn, vent, pray, mourn, be heard and themselves be healed. The Catholic Medical Association provides such opportunities for anyone working in the medical profession, and forming a local guild brings these opportunities to the local level. As the CMA describes, guilds not only provide fellowship but also education, the ability to serve the local Church and public and a base for medical students and residents to find guidance, mutual support and witness. There has been growing interest in forming a guild of the CMA in Vermont in support of those working in the medical profession. In pursuit of this endeavor, a group of physicians and clergy have come together to embark on this journey. To better understand the needs and interest here, we invite anyone working in any aspect of healthcare to come to a night of evening prayer with a reception to follow at the rectory with Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. Family members also are welcome to join us in prayer, fellowship and discussion.

— Dr. Marta Kokoszynska, is an instructor, pulmonary and critical care medicine, at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

Evening prayer and reception for healthcare professionals

Saturday, June 1; 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Evening prayer St. Joseph Cathedral, Burlington

Reception Cathedral rectory

Register: vermontcatholic.org/CMAeveningprayer

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