Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Annual Rose Mass, Invoking God’s Blessings for Those Who Work in Health Care Ministry

Sunday, March 6, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today celebrated the 25th annual Rose Mass for medical, dental, nursing and allied health care workers at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md.

With the celebration of the Rose Mass, the John Carroll Society, a Washington area organization that provides spiritual, intellectual, charitable and social opportunities for Catholic professionals and business men and women in service to the Archbishop of Washington, continues a tradition that began in 1992. This event takes place annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday when the vestments worn by the celebrant are rose-colored. The rose has also come to symbolize life, the precious care of which is entrusted to the healing professions.

The Rose Mass is organized to invoke God’s blessings on the medical, dental, nursing and allied health care workers and the many health care institutions in the Archdiocese of Washington. In addition, the Mass provides an opportunity to acknowledge the work of the volunteers of the Catholic Charities Health Care Network. This network is composed of a multitude of dedicated workers from all religions, infused with an ecumenical spirit in their care of the sick. The network provides millions of dollars in free outpatient services to thousands of people in need through the generosity of volunteer nurses, doctors, dentists and area hospitals.

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by expressing gratitude to the faithful gathered, specifically to those engaged in health care ministry, including doctors, nurses, hospital staff, chaplains and those that participate in the many expressions of health care. He also thanked Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi for his leadership and pastoral devotion as pastor of Church of the Little Flower and as chaplain for the John Carroll Society which sponsors the annual Rose Mass.

Citing the Jubilee Year of Mercy as a time that Pope Francis, has called all of us to focus on the magnificent gift of God’s enduring mercy, the cardinal reflected on the day’s readings, in particular, the Gospel, that it helps us appreciate all the more the grandeur of God’s compassion, forgiveness and mercy, and the challenge that we face to share that mercy with those around us. “We are told that while the Prodigal Son was still a long way off making his way back home, ‘his father caught sight him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son…’ Church Fathers speak of the image of the father standing on the knoll of the hill simply watching, waiting, watching, yearning, praying and watching – for the return of his son.”

“You and I, we, can enter into this Year of Mercy, we can pass through the Holy Door, we can enter the confessional, we can ask forgiveness with the total confidence that our Heavenly Father is waiting and watching and yearning and still waiting. And the same father who embraces his Prodigal Son also challenges his older son to be every bit as compassionate, merciful and forgiving,” said the cardinal. “How do we manifest the mercy of God? How do you and I share that compassion? How is it that we can be ambassadors for Christ, members of a new creation as the second reading today taken from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians challenges us? One universal, structured manifestation of the mercy of God is found in Catholic health care.”

Calling those who work in health care ministry and their institutions as ‘living expressions of the compassion and healing of Christ,’ the cardinal said, “The Catholic Church is involved in health care ministry and therefore in the institutional delivery of health care services because of our faith conviction that health care ministry is an integral part of the Church’s effort to continue the mission of Christ in the world – the healing, caring, compassionate, merciful ministry of Christ… Our commitment to follow Christ as his disciple engages us not just in a profession of faith but in a commitment to action.”

As he concluded his homily, the cardinal said we pray that the Catholic Church’s  involvement in health care will continue to bear witness to the teaching and love of Christ. “This is done through the caring ministry that serves the whole person – body, mind and soul. Thus our ministry embraces the person with all the compassion and love that says to the sick, the infirm, and all of those in need of health care: ‘As Christ would reach out to touch and heal, so too, do we.’”

Following the Mass was a luncheon where the John Carroll Society honored three local health care providers, and two archdiocesan priests who were recognized for their outstanding volunteer service and tireless efforts in serving the community’s health care needs.

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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