Catholic health care professionals invited to annual White Mass Oct. 18

The Annual White Mass will be celebrated by Father Tim Hjelstrom on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish, 8035 S Quebec St, Englewood CO 80112.

Mass will be followed by a dinner and a speaker, Sister Mary Diana Dregar, MD, Dominican Sister and Physician. The White Mass is an opportunity for Catholic Healthcare Providers to join in celebration and renewal of their professional oaths guided by the wisdom and moral teachings of the Church. It is open to the public, but Catholic health care professionals, including mental health workers, are especially invited to attend. To register and RSVP, go to www.Denver-CMA.com. The cost is $10 (for dinner) and students are free. The event is sponsored by Centura Health.

The tradition of the White Mass in the United States finds its origins in the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930s. From its inception, the medical profession has been understood as a healing profession, a way in which Christ’s work continues upon the earth. Moreover, since the apparitions at Lourdes in the late 19th century, the plight of the infirmed — and those who care for them — have taken on renewed appreciation in participating in the mysteries of Christ’s own life. The White Mass, so named by the color worn by those in the healing profession of medicine, gathers health care professionals under the patronage of St. Luke to ask God’s blessing upon the patient, doctor, nurse, and caregiver alike.

Following the White Mass, Sister Mary Diana Dreger will be speaking on the “Reflections on Being a Catholic Physician: Model of the Church’s Social Teaching for Healthcare Professionals.”  Sister is a member of the Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as a practicing internal medicine physician.

Since 2007, she has worked with The Holy Family Health Center, an affiliate of Saint Thomas Medical Partners. In addition to caring for her patients who are predominantly uninsured immigrants, as the only physician on-site, she supervises nurse practitioners and participates actively in the management of the clinic and formation of the staff.

She graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School in 2001, and completed her residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2004. She holds a faculty appointment with Vanderbilt as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health. In this role she is a preceptor with medical students for rotations in primary care and supervises internal medicine residents in their continuity clinic at Holy Family.

Sister Mary Diana has become proficient in Spanish in order to serve the largely Hispanic population of the clinic, where the staff, providers, and students are all bilingual. Sister is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

She has been a member of the Dominicans for over 25 years. Before entering the community, she was a biology major at Cornell University, and then completed her degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a concentration in secondary education. She completed Master of Arts in Mathematics at Stony Brook in 1987. Sister then taught at the high school and college levels, before discerning her vocation to religious life.

In Nashville, she has also been involved in administration at Saint Cecilia Academy, and was a member of the Aquinas College Board of Directors. She is currently working toward completion of a Master of Arts in moral theology with Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Sister became an active participant in the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) in 2006. She was a founding member of the Nashville Guild of the CMA in 2008 and has served as an officer for the local guild for six years. She became an advisor to the president and a member of the board of directors of the CMA at the national level in 2014, and serves as chair of the Linacre Quarterly Committee, providing strategic oversight for the official journal of the CMA.

She is a member of the national CMA speaker’s bureau, and has presented over 100 talks across the country and in Canada on topics related to education, medicine, faith, and ethics to high school, college, parish, clergy, and medical audiences. She has presented twice at the Annual Educational Conference of the CMA on topics related to the faithful practice of the Catholic physician, was invited to speak twice to the Christian Community Health Fellowship national meeting, and has spoken at several secular medical meetings including for the Program in Professionalism and Ethics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed the National Catholic Bioethics Center certification program with distinction in 2011, and her paper “Autonomy Trumps All” was published in 2012 by the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly.

For more information on the White Mass event, contact DenverCMA@gmail.com.

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit: https://www.cocatholicconference.org/2021-legislative-bills-analysis/  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 


HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.