An Apostolate for Catholic Health Care Professionals

The fundamental aim of the Moss Program for Christian Social Thought and Management is to enable both scholars and practitioners to address the relationship between faith and work in all its aspects and dimensions. Our activities include various forums in which this relationship is explored and its meaning pursued.

One of our most important efforts over the past year has been to nurture and support the growth of a group of Catholic health care professionals organized under the name Curatio. This small but rapidly expanding organization is an apostolate for health care professionals, governed by the motto: Curatio Ex Corde Christi (Healing from the Heart of Christ). Members are dedicated to reclaiming the sacred nature of health care and to deepening their faith through fulfilling their vocation to care for the sick and the dying. Perhaps it can be said that, in our current cultural climate, few things could be more important than to understand the role that Christian faith and praxis play in the lives of those whose work is to heal.

Curatio’s mission is grounded in the assumption that each human person possesses inherent dignity by virtue of the fact that all are created in the image and likeness of God; it is to work to “build and defend a culture of life” and to “act as ‘leaven’ within the health care professions in obedience to the Gospel message.” Curatio’s apostolic thrust begins with a concern for the faith lives of its members and an emphasis on building a community of prayer, centered on the Eucharist. Meetings are held after Mass on the first Friday of each month, and members pray throughout the week for their colleagues,their profession and their patients. In this way, Curatio members seek to unite themselves to Jesus Christ, the “Divine Physician,”to understand their work as a vocational call to action, and to strengthen the virtue and character of health care professionals through the grace of the sacraments and daily prayer.

It is through the process of becoming more and more rooted in the life of grace that Curatio members seek to pursue the other dimensions of their apostolate, to:

  • Serve as a forum for dialogue and debate on the ethical issues facing the health care profession
  • Sponsor educational programs grounded in Church teachings that can help health care professionals to integrate their faith with their professional responsibilities
  • Provide for the mission needs of the sick through volunteer service
  • Be a witness through dialogue and example to peers and patients

The original impulse to organize such a group came from Dianne Johnson, R.N., a radiology nurse and currently a student in the Master’s Program in Catholic Studies (see her story elsewhere in this publication). Johnson’s experience working in the health care field led her to seek out other concerned Catholics in her profession – and Curatio was born. The organization is intended primarily for the support of Catholic health care professionals, and is open to people working in any capacity in the health care profession. Currently, membership includes doctors and nurses, emergency medical technicians, administrators and chiropractors. The group is aided greatly by its chaplain, the Rev. Rolf Tollefson, and its ecclesial moderator, Bishop Frederick Campbell.