The Catholic Medical Association has always worked to inspire members to uphold “the principles of the Catholic Faith in the science and practice of medicine.” Now, CMA will have a powerful new ally in the Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine.
The new medical school, founded by Catholic Healthcare International (CHI), will educate osteopathic physicians “in a faithful Catholic framework, to treat the sick, relieve suffering, and thereby evangelize the Good News of Jesus Christ” according to its mission statement.
The Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine, will open on the Benedictine College campus in Atchison, Kansas but will be an independent, separately licensed, accredited, financed and governed entity. It is not part of Benedictine College, but the leadership of both institutions entered into a formal Collaborative Affiliation Agreement that was signed and announced at the 91st Annual Educational Conference in Denver, Colorado on September 8, paying special homage to the Feast of the Nativity of Mary.
“We have been blessed with multiple opportunities to update the membership of CMA [about this school] at subsequent annual conferences and therefore, it is entirely fitting that we should announce and execute this groundbreaking milestone with our fellow Catholic health care family at the CMA conference this year in Denver,” said CHI President Jere Palazzolo.
“The campus culture of community, faith and scholarship that we have worked so hard to create will be the perfect home for the Padre Pio medical school at Benedictine College,” added Benedictine College President Steve Minnis.
CMA’s President Dr. Craig Treptow noted that the exhilaration at the signing was palpable as attendees exploded with a standing ovation. “We look forward to seeing the fruit of this agreement in future medical students and CMA members,” he said.
The school is a work of love and of divine providence in many ways. CHI had been in the process of developing a plan for a hospital and medical school in the charism of Saint Padre Pio, and this caught the attention of George Mychaskiw, now founding president and CEO of the new institute and school, who read about it in an interview given by Raymond Cardinal Burke.
Mychaskiw is an osteopathic physician who has been practicing since 1992. In 2006, he did a health policy fellowship that focused on care to underserved populations, with a particular interest in the southern border. This led him to develop a white paper showing how a host university could affiliate with a new medical school in order to better meet the underserved population of that area. In the course of several years promoting his idea, he successfully helped to establish four different medical schools, with four more in development.
The Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine, however, is very close to Mychaskiw’s heart.
“As a devout Ukrainian Catholic, I have always wanted to open a strongly Catholic medical school,” he said. He reached out to CHI right away to offer his services to help develop this school, slated to be “the most faithful Catholic medical school in the world and the only medical school adherent to Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”
The vision for the school is counter-cultural in the health care industry, but cannot be realized soon enough for faithful Catholics. Mychaskiw sums it up this way: “The genocide of 65 million children, the murder of the elderly and disabled by withholding nutrition and hydration, the mutilation of children and teenagers to pursue a twisted gender ideology, all could not have occurred without the ready, willing and able participation of physicians. This school will call abortion and euthanasia the murder they are and realize that gender dysphoria is a psychiatric disorder to be treated rather than celebrated.”
Each of the anticipated 150 yearly graduates will take with them the inspiration to “take back the culture of death and set the world right,” Mychaskiw added.
This will be achieved through a rigorous curriculum that will include coursework in Catholic bioethics, the theology of the body, and the theology of suffering, as well as thorough medical training. Each student will also participate in a spiritual direction program and have access to an Eastern Catholic chapel where the Divine Liturgy, the Liturgy of the Hours, and Eucharistic Adoration will be daily occurrences. The research will focus on bioethically sound therapies, including ethically-developed pharmaceuticals and stem-cell technologies.
Of course, no vision like this can be achieved without solid leadership and support.
According to Mychaskiw, “All of our senior leadership, Board of Trustees and as much faculty as possible will be Catholic. Regardless of religion, every employee will be required to sign a mandatum of fealty to Catholic principles and to abide by Catholic principles as a condition of employment.”
And in keeping with the directives of the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, there is already a strong relationship between the episcopacy and the school. Raymond Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan have all lent their approval and assistance to this project.
“Today more than ever, we need a Catholic medical school committed to providing future doctors with scientific and academic excellence and high-quality training in medical ethics anchored in Catholic moral principles and sound spiritual formation,” commented Archbishop Naumann.
The Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine is now in the multi-stage process of accreditor approval, fundraising, and construction of a new 100,000-square-foot building to house the institute. The anticipated matriculation date for the first class is fall of 2026. The team at CHI anticipates that this school will receive approximately 5,000 applications each year for 150 open spaces. They are already looking to the future, hoping to offer other programs such as physician assistant, nurse anesthesia, and even dentistry.
The Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering (proposed) is an independent, separately licensed, accredited governed and financed entity that will reside on the campus of Benedictine College. It is not part of Benedictine College. The Saint Padre Pio Institute for the relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine (proposed) is not yet approved or accredited by any organization, and it may not solicit students, make offers of admission or begin instruction; nothing herein should be construed as such.