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

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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: Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

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Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Volunteers gathered nearly 50,000 signatures for Initiative 120 within two-week cure period

Aaron Lambert

In a final push, supporters of the initiative seeking to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

During a two-week cure period granted after falling short of required signatures to get Initiative 120 on the ballot, over 400 volunteers worked diligently and collected over 48,000 signatures by May 28, nearly three times the amount sought during the cure period. The Due Date Too Late campaign spearheaded the charge to gather signatures with support from Catholic Charities’ Respect Life Office and other pro-life communities across the state.

“I am overjoyed to hear that so many Coloradans have signed the petition to successfully place Initiative 120 on the November ballot,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who expressed his support for the initiative early on. “Protecting children in the womb is an essential part of building a society that treats all life, no matter its age or ability, as sacred. God has given each person a dignity that comes from being made in his image and likeness, and the degree to which our laws reflect that will be the degree to which we experience true freedom and happiness.”

Initiative 120 would prohibit abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks, with an exception for the life of the mother. According to a recent Gallup poll, 74% of Americans believe that there should be limitations on late term abortion. Due Date Too Late submitted the bulk of the needed petition signatures in March but fell short 10,000 signatures after review by the Secretary of State. The cure period began on May 15, with Due Date Too Late needing to collect those 10,000 additional verified signatures of registered Colorado voters during the 15-day cure period to meet the 124,632 threshold and qualify for the November ballot.

“We are thrilled to take this next step towards protecting lives in Colorado by exceeding our goal of signatures we are turning into the Secretary of State,” said Lauren Castillo, spokesperson for the Due Date Too Late campaign. “We are thankful to have this opportunity to work together with communities across the entire state of Colorado. The hundreds of volunteers we have who are so passionate about ending late-term abortion are helping to make this a reality.”

Due Date Too Late will be turning in the notarized packets containing almost 50,000 signatures on May 29 at 2 p.m. to the office of the Secretary of State to assure that the ballot initiative will meet the statutory threshold.

The field collection effort by Due Date Too Late went forward amid a recent executive order by Gov. Jared Polis regarding how petition signatures may be collected. Under Gov. Polis’ order, he declared that ballot initiatives could gather signatures electronically in response to the coronavirus pandemic; however, Initiative 120 was the only ballot initiative that wasn’t allowed to collect signatures electronically because it was in a cure period.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated over 30,000 signatures were being turned in, based on the information that was available at the time of publication. The actual number is closer to 50,000. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.