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CMA Welcomes Newest Guild

March 10, 2024

Holy City Catholic Physicians Guild of Charleston, SC

By Dr. Thomas McNamara, O.P.

Inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, a group of faithful Catholic physicians has come together to form the newest guild of the Catholic Medical Association in Charleston, South Carolina. As Catholic physicians, we seek objective truth through faith and reason to follow the example of the greatest physician, Jesus Christ, in our professional lives.

I agreed to lead this effort as president along with our two officers, Drs. Colin Edgerton and Amy Dietrich along with our Guild Chaplain Fr. JohnBosco Ikemeh. For me, the inspiration developed over the past year particularly after attending the CMA Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp in June and the Catholic Medical Professionals Mass & Gathering at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist sponsored by the Diocese of Charleston in October. At those educational events, I met several Catholic physicians and medical students from around the country and learned about the work of the guilds. From conversations with local physicians, I could sense that there was a need for a resource where we could gather for fellowship and educational discussion about the ethical and moral issues confronting every aspect of medical practice today. Since I had recently made a career transition, I had some time to devote to organizing and working on the application process.

My background is in Family Medicine which has combined clinical, health care administrative and physician leadership roles over my 40-year career. My faith has always been an integral part of my life and practice, and I have a strong interest in medical ethics. I have witnessed tremendous advances in medical science for the good during my career but also, we are increasingly seeing trends that are taking us down paths that are contrary to our faith and our oath to protect life and do no harm. These are troubling developments and physicians who speak out can often feel isolated or stigmatized for doing so. For me, this role seemed to fit given that I recently completed a master’s in theology with a bioethics concentration from the Holy Apostles College and Seminary and I lead the local Lay Dominican group in Charleston. The Dominican motto is Veritas (or truth) which is what we are seeking.

Charleston has always been a place that honors religious freedom for all faiths and denominations, which explains the many church steeples that make up the city’s skyline. The nickname “Holy City” stems from that tradition. It is also home to several health care systems including the Medical University of South Carolina, the state’s only comprehensive academic health system; Trident Health, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare; and the merging of Roper and St. Francis Xavier hospitals (restructured to be part of the Bon Secours Health System). Those two hospitals were the first in Charleston. St. Francis Xavier Hospital was founded in 1882 by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, making it the first Catholic hospital in Charleston; thus, there is a long history of Catholic health care delivery in this city. The vision of the Guild is to attract Catholic physicians, residents in training, and medical students for education, support, guidance, and fellowship with other Catholic physicians. Seeking truth will be one of our overarching goals. It is our hope that this Guild will be a source of strength to instill the fortitude and courage to proclaim the truth, with love and compassion, for our patients and families.

Upcoming events include a “Blessing of the Guild” Mass with Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune on March 19 with a reception and the Guild’s first formal meeting to follow with guest speaker Dr. Patrick Lappert discussing the topic, “On the Catholic Practice of Medicine.” Our next diocesan Mass & Gathering for Medical Professionals will be held on November 23, 2024.

We look forward to all the blessings that will come from the formation of the Holy City Catholic Physicians Guild of Charleston, SC.