Skip to page content
Join CMA for full access to all of our benefits


CMA’s 92nd Annual Educational Conference Inspires Courage

September 18, 2023

Proud CMA Texan Members Dr. Jorge Maldonado with his wife Marta and Dr. Amilcar Avendano with his wife Dr. Maria Balerdi-Avendano share in fellowship.

The resounding success of CMA’s 92nd Annual Educational Conference (AEC) is undeniable as more than 700 physicians, health care professionals, and medical students descended upon Phoenix, Arizona Sept 6-10th.

The theme of courage united attendees regardless of their specific field in medicine or years of experience –– everyone related to the message of courage to fight the good fight for authentic health care grounded in truth.

The AEC Chair Dr. Tim Millea explained that the Christian virtue of fortitude, also called courage, is the willingness to do what is right despite your fears. St. Thomas Aquinas, he said, “called courage the necessary virtue” noting that “it is not the absence of fear, it is the overcoming of fear.” He further explained that “there is a tendency to want Christianity to be smooth, attractive, respected and powerful in the world-sense. But now, like long ago, Christ remains on the Cross. That is the cost of courage. We get the privilege of experiencing splinters from that Cross.”

Conference Chair Dr. Tim Millea officially opens the 92nd Annual Educational Conference in Phoenix, Ariz Sept. 7-9, 2023.

Dr. Millea was tasked with choosing the theme of the conference in 2020 before the presidential election.

“I had an overwhelming sense that courage needed to be the topic,” he told conference attendees. “Compare what we have to deal with now to what we had to deal with then. It has changed significantly – think about the difficulties and threats that we have to endure today. As usual God knew what He was about when He put that compulsion on my heart to focus on courageous Catholic medicine.”

In a courageous act during the conference, the Catholic Medical Association released its position paper The Ideology of Gender Harms Children, taking a stand against the current standard of practice for children with gender dysphoria and calling on other medical associations to do the same.

“Reviewing the evidence for purported treatments for gender dysphoria over the past year, we found the American medical establishment speaking from a place of eminence-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine,” said CMA President Dr. Craig Treptow. “The ideology of gender is causing significant harm to children and adolescents. We speak up again now to prevent further harm to those children and to give courage to those who are looking for a voice in medicine.”

During the General Assembly, recipients were announced for a number of awards including the Outstanding Guild Award that went to The Nashville Guild of the Catholic Medical Association for successfully engaging its members and the community to advance CMA’s mission.

Members of the CMA Student Section of Rocky Vista University accept the 2023 Outstanding Student Chapter Award presented by President Dr. Craig Treptow and Executive Director Mario Dickerson.

The Outstanding Student Chapter Award went to the CMA Student Section at Rocky Vista University because of their focus on service through homeless outreach, spiritual and educational formation events, monthly Holy Hours, seminars and a Religious Patient Panel which considers how to approach religion in various patient-care settings.

The Outstanding Guild Chaplain award went to Rev. Kyle Ratuiste, M.Div., Chaplain of the Spokane – Washington Guild, who far exceeded expectations by leading spiritual retreats, coordinating all aspects of the Guild’s White Mass at the cathedral, and working on health care policies with the diocese. (For a complete list of awards and recipients, visit here.)

During the General Assembly, the incoming Board of Directors was also announced and the Episcopal Advisor Bishop James Conley led the installation ceremony. Dr. Michelle Stanford will become the new president and her previous role as vice president will be filled by Dr. David Hilger. Dr Alfonso Oliva will serve as treasurer and Dr. Jennifer Perone will serve as secretary. Dr. Stanford appointed Sr. Mary Diana Dreger, O.P., M.D. and Dr. Maricela P. Moffitt, past president, to serve as her advisors.

Keynote Speaker Father Chase Hilgenbrinck shares the person of Jesus Christ with conference attendees.

The conference culminated with the White Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Phoenix, and a banquet dinner that featured a keynote address by the professional soccer player turned priest, Father Chase Hilgenbrinck. Fr. Chase reminded the medical professionals in attendance that the battle is not between those at the hospitals against them, but of evil and malicious spirits under the power of Satan, who make war against the people of God. Therefore, he reminded the physicians that their identity is not symbolized by their white coats, but rather by the white garment they received at baptism signifying they belong to God as His children. Using His power, they can practice courageous Catholic medicine.

Over 700 physicians, medical professionals and students gathered together for the end-of-conference White Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Phoenix, at St. Mary’s Basilica.

Outgoing President Dr. Craig Treptow noted that he has seen 11 past presidents give the speech he gave at the banquet and understands the emotion he has seen expressed by them. He noted that the president gets a unique view of the breadth of work that CMA does and the willingness of members to fight for their patients and authentic Catholic health care.

“There is no organization like the CMA,” he said. “When we are disappointed by many things in medicine, I can tell you that you’ll never be disappointed in the Catholic Medical Association.”

CMA members Drs. Jais Emmanuel Valley and Jennifer Cortes (middle) enjoy time with friends at the recent CMA conference in Phoenix, Ariz. Sept. 7-9, 2023.

Incoming President Dr. Michelle Stanford expressed gratitude to be able to serve for the next two years noting the impact the organization has had on her life personally and professionally.

“Catholic health care is excellent health care,” she told attendees to applause.

She recalled the saying that “a family that prayers together, stays together” and expressed that one of the hallmarks of CMA is the family-like experience of the organization. Therefore, she said, through prayer and through the power of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Medical Association can courageously do the hard work ahead to advance authentic, Catholic health care.

Dr. Millea said in his opening remarks to those that have attended an AEC before, “This is our reunion, our renewal, our recharge,” and to those attending for the first time, “You will leave here a changed person and you’re going to be back.” On that note, CMA extends an invitation to the 2024 93rd Annual Educational Conference in Orlando, Florida Sept. 5-7, 2024 themed Imago Dei. View conference promotional video here.