Rose Mass honors six local health care providers who have donated thousands of hours to those in need

March 15, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today celebrated the 24th annual Rose Mass for medical, dental, nursing and allied health care workers at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md. Rev. Kevin T. FitzGerald, S.J., the Dr. David Lauler Chair of Catholic Health Care Ethics in the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, was the homilist.

With the celebration of this 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, a 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.

Following the Mass was a luncheon where the John Carroll Society honored four local health care providers, a priest and a religious sister who were recognized for their outstanding volunteer service and tireless efforts in serving the community’s needs:

Pro Bono Health Care Awardees

Cameron M. Akbari, M.D. (Vascular and General Surgery)

Dr. Akbari had a firsthand look at caring for the underserved as his father, a general surgeon, provided pro bono care to those in need in Anacostia and Southeast Washington, D.C. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, he attended Georgetown University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Connecticut Health Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He also completed a fellowship in peripheral vascular surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and served as an academic vascular surgeon attending at Beth Israel for five years. Dr. Akbari received an academic appointment at the Harvard Medical School where he was involved with teaching and research, then completed his M.B.A. at the Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business. Dr. Akbari and his family returned to the Washington, D.C. area in 2002. He became a member of the Vascular Surgery Department at the Washington Hospital Center. He presently is an assistant professor in the division of vascular surgery and serves as director of the vascular surgery program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. His special interest is diabetic limb salvage and complex open and endovascular lower extremity revascularization. He is the coauthor of over 65 major publications in the surgical literature and lectures nationally and internationally. He has been dedicated to providing surgical vascular expertise to many patients of the Catholic Charities Health Care Network. He lives with his family in McLean, Virginia, where he is a member of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church and serves on the vestry.

Malcolm M. DeSouza, M.D. (Obstetrics and Gynecology)

Dr. DeSouza has devoted his professional life to women’s health care and his personal life to his family. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, his family moved to Toronto, Canada when he was six, where they lived until he was 17. His family then relocated to the Washington D.C. area, where he eventually established his family and his medical practice. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, he attended Eastern Virginia Medical School. He returned to George Washington University and completed his residency training in obstetrics and gynecology. His commitment to the underserved began during his residency, when he approached the CEO of Sibley Hospital and proposed an outreach clinical program directed to the underserved in Washington, D.C. The hospital responded, and in collaboration with the Washington Free Clinic, Dr. DeSouza worked in this safety-net clinic for eight years. He provided obstetrical care for 10 to 20 patients per month and served on the board of directors of the Washington Free Clinic. Since establishing his private practice in 1996, he has provided pro bono health care to the underserved from various charity clinics, including the Catholic Charities Health Care Network. He is a devoted husband to his wife, Mercedes, and a dedicated father to his three daughters, Catalina, Isabela, and Juliana, who attend Little Flower School.

James A. Ronan, Jr., M.D. (Cardiology and Internal Medicine)

A native of Chicago, Dr. Ronan earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and completed medical school at St. Louis University. Ronan was a member of the cardiology division at Georgetown University Hospital, initially full-time and later part-time, over a period of 25 years. From 1974-2000 he was co-director of the Cardiology Department at Washington Adventist Hospital. He discontinued his private practice in 2000 in order to pursue pro bono work. His volunteer work included medical care at the Spanish Catholic Center and at Unity Health Care Homeless Shelter in Washington, D.C. He is the founding medical director of the Mercy Health Clinic in Germantown, which opened its doors on October 3, 2000, serving uninsured and low-income residents of Montgomery County free of charge. Under the vision of Dr. Ronan, the Mercy Health Clinic sprung from humble beginnings with three exam rooms to a larger primary care and multi-specialty free clinic. The clinic has subsequently relocated to Gaithersburg and has undergone several expansions. Dr. Ronan continues to enjoy providing care for patients and serves on the Mercy Health Clinic’s Board of Directors. Dr. Ronan and his wife, Lucy, live in Potomac, Maryland, where they raised their three children and enjoy watching their four grandchildren grow. He is an active parishioner at St. Raphael Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland, where he volunteers as an altar server.

Msgr. Harry A. Echle Award for Outstanding Service in Health Care Ministry

Rev. Jeffrey F. Samaha was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Camp Springs, Maryland, a town he called home for 52 years. He was educated at St. John’s Grade School in Clinton, Maryland and St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. before enrolling in St. Pius X Seminary. Fr. Samaha received his Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Scranton in 1974 and Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was ordained at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. in 1978. Fr. Samaha was parochial vicar at St. Bernadette Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. He found his calling, ministering to the sick and elderly as he served first as chaplain at Holy Cross Hospital and later at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland, St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland, St. Mary’s Nursing Center, Cedar Lane Senior Apartments, and Newtowne Village Senior Apartments. In 1993 Fr. Samaha arrived at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, where he continues as chaplain today. Ministering to the sick and infirm runs in Fr. Samaha’s family. His father was a professor of dentistry in academic and private practice. His brother Richard is an emergency room physician and his sister Lisa Marie is a dentist. MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center awarded him the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2000. He was subsequently appointed chief of chaplains. Fr. Samaha was awarded the St. Philip the Apostle Service Award, and in 2014 he was recognized by the National Council of American Executives. 

Sister Daria Moon, SPC was born in Seoul, South Korea. She majored in science education and chemistry in college. After graduating, she entered the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in 1987 and made her first vows on February 2, 1990. Serving as a catechism teacher in St. Paul Middle School, she developed seminars, retreats, and programs for Sunday school teachers in Incheon, Korea. After her perpetual profession of vows in 1995, she earned a theology degree at Seoul Catholic University. Sister Daria was passionate about learning English, and in 1999 she came to the United States to work at the Korean Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri. While studying English, she completed her clinical pastoral education at St. Luke’s Hospital and became certified as a chaplain by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. Sister Daria’s community transferred her to Washington, D.C. in 2004 and she began work at the Washington Hospital Center’s Spiritual Care Department. She suffered a great personal loss when her brother, Leo, died suddenly from a tragic accident. Working through her grief transformed her ability to share in the joy and love of God. Sister Daria resides with the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres at St. Ann’s Parish Convent in Washington, D.C. and she continues to serve at The Washington Hospital Center and the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

2014 James Cardinal Hickey Lifetime Service Award

Melanie J. Buttross, M.D. (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Buttross grew up in Louisiana, where her father was an internist who provided pro bono health care to many of his patients. She attended college and medical school at Louisiana State University, followed by an ophthalmology residency at George Washington University and fellowship training at the University of Florida. She then joined the Eye Associates of Washington, D.C., where she has been practicing since 1991. She started seeing patients for the Catholic Charities Health Care Network in 1991 and has been steadfastly providing pro bono care ever since. Her enthusiasm for providing pro bono care and recruiting other physicians earned her a position as a board member and recruitment chair of the Health Care Network. Dr. Buttross has had the privilege of restoring sight to countless uninsured patients through cataract surgery and has also preserved sight, treating many eye diseases on an outpatient basis. She has been on the teaching staff of George Washington University Hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and the Washington Hospital Center and serves as a physician for the Arlington Free Clinic. Dr. Buttross married her husband, Bill Thomas, in 1996, and they have two children: Claire, a senior at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, and Will, a sophomore at Gonzaga College High School. Her family resides in McLean and attends St. Luke’s Catholic Church, where Dr. Buttross also serves as a lector.

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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
[email protected]