Bishop Gregory Parkes celebrates the annual White Mass in the new Jesuit High School Chapel. The captivating painting by Spanish painter Raul Perzosa of Christ hangs above the altar. Top photo: Bishop Gregory Parkes with Tampa Bay CMA Guild President Dr. John Robert Hamill, Vice President Dr. James Connor, and Secretary and Treasurer Dr. Diane Gowski.

CMA’s Tampa Bay Guild of St. Philomena ended 2020 with its annual White Mass and began 2021 with the annual CMA Florida state conference. Many more exciting initiatives are underway.

“It was quite a challenge preparing for the White Mass given the COVID-19 pandemic,” Guild President Dr. Robert Hamill recalled. “We felt that in this time of crisis, it was especially important to gather together and continue with our White Mass tradition, while following CDC social distancing guidelines.”

Dr. Hamill sought and obtained special permission to use the Chapel of the Holy Cross at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida. Approximately 80 CMA members and spouses attended the beautiful high Mass October 24, 2020. The use of Latin and incense for part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass added to the mystery and beauty.

The celebration of the White Mass began with a formal procession of Jesuit High School altar servers and priests along with CMA Board members. The sacred music was provided by the Jesuit High School music director as the head organist, complemented by a student organist, adult and student cantor, and two student trumpeters.

“Bishop Gregory Parkes gave a very inspiring sermon and encouraged us as Catholic physicians and other healthcare providers to be witnesses to our faith in all aspects of healthcare, and to show respect to all patients, especially during this stressful time of the pandemic,” Dr. Hamill recalled. “We left the White Mass feeling much better prepared for the upcoming medical and spiritual challenges we will continue to face in our practice of medicine.”

With that inspiration, Dr. Hamill has been busy planning for the new year with his board members and the other Florida guilds.

Presenters Debi Vinnedge, founder of Children of God for Life; and Dr Felipe Vizcarrondo, Miami Guild President speak at the 5th Annual Florida Catholic Medical Association Retreat and Bioethics & Legislative Conference. Retreat Master Fr. James Blount, SOLT, says Mass for attendees.

The first event was a state-wide one in which all the Florida guilds gathered for the 5th Annual Florida Catholic Medical Association Retreat and Bioethics & Legislative Conference Feb. 19–21. Florida State Director and Tampa Bay guild member Dr. Diane Gowski coordinated the event, the theme of which was “Witnessing to Charity and Fortitude on the Battlefield of Medicine.” A new Zoom option for Saturday opened the event to attendees nationwide. In-person attendees experienced the splendid House of Prayer retreat center in Clearwater, a new conference location, although space was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A new focus for the Guild this year is the incorporation of events that have a virtual component. The Guild is initiating a virtual book club, inspired by the Virtual Journal Club which was cofounded by Dr. Felix Rodriguez, president of the Palm Beach Physicians Guild of Florida and Dr. Thomas Carroll, president of the Finger Lakes Guild of NY. Guild Chaplain Fr. Paul Pecchie will also lead a regular virtual Rosary prayer event.

Because Tampa Bay covers a large geographic area, sometimes requiring hour-long drives to events, Dr. Hamill finds that virtual events provide an easier opportunity for guild members to participate with less stress and time commitment.

“Many of our local guild members see each other only once a year at the White Mass, so this way we can continue to build relationships and friendships,” he said.

The Guild has already planned its annual White Mass for this year, which will be held at Christ the King Church in Tampa September 24 with Bishop Gregory Parkes celebrating.

Last year, the dinner and speaker event that follows the Mass had to be canceled because of the pandemic, but this year the Guild is hopeful that it can offer this special time of fellowship. It will feature CMA Director-at-Large Dr. Tom McGovern who will be discussing his new book, What Christ Suffered: A Doctor’s Journey Through the Passion.

Dr. Hamill also plans to promote the conference with an audiovisual presentation at the dinner event because he believes a personal invitation coupled with the proximity of the conference will increase guild participation.

Finally, he is also planning a welcome meeting for his guild at the start of the CMA’s Annual Educational Conference that will be held in Orlando this year October 7-9.

“The purpose of the meeting is to be available to answer any questions as well as strengthen fellowship among the local guild members,” Dr. Hamill said. “We feel that this year is already shaping up to be one of hope and joy in the Holy Spirit. We look forward to all the ways the Tampa Bay Guild will be able to accomplish our goals within the state and national Catholic Medical Association.”