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Chaplain’s Corner

CMA’s National Chaplain: From Doctor to Priest

September 15, 2023

In honor of Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 24, CMA wishes to take this opportunity to thank all our guild chaplains, most especially our National Chaplain, Rev. Christopher Kubat, M.D. His dedication, service and wonderful spiritual advice has enriched our organization. We take this opportunity to share how Dr. Kubat became Fr. Kubat, and as such, gifting CMA with his priesthood.


The thought of being a priest was something Dr. Christopher Kubat could recall from an early age – “It was never overpowering, a gentle whisper.” But once he started high school and later college, the worldly noise that surrounded him did not give him time to pay much attention.

He set out to follow in his father’s footsteps by attending his father’s alma mater Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska as a pre-med student and continued there for medical school. While his father had pursued dentistry, he was drawn to the surgical side of medicine. He did his residency in urology at the University of Iowa and later was in private practice for seven years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It was during his time in practice that he began feeling a pull to attend daily Mass, which was conveniently being offered not far from his office. It was during this time that he could hear the gentle whisper more clearly. Dr. Kubat was faced with a decision: Would he listen or let the noise of the world continue to distract him?

Daily Mass began to change him. It gave him the strength to accept the calling, however fear and doubt remained. He still desired marriage and he had to consider all his patients in his thriving practice –– he would be giving up so much, he thought. In prayer, struggling with his yes, he felt no comfort, only silence, which confused him more and put doubt in his heart as to whether he was making the right choice.

Enters the Blessed Mother

In an orchestrated chain of events, which Dr. Kubat attributes to the Blessed Mother, he was invited last minute to attend a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. Things perfectly aligned for him to go despite being in the midst of a busy practice. Once there, moments before he was to be submerged into the waters of Lourdes, he held onto a statue of Mary and asked her to obtain for him the courage and grace to answer this priestly calling.

“When I was submerged and resurfaced, I was instantly transformed. The old Chris was dead –– he needed to die –– and I floated out of there a new man,” he explained.

That transformation was so profound that he was given the peace and deep joy to give everything up for love of God. He realized in an instant that he would gain so much more than he would ever give up. He felt complete detachment and wanted only to fulfill God’s calling to become a priest.

Dr. Kubat became Father Kubat May 22, 1999, and upon his ordination, he returned to Lourdes to thank the Blessed Mother. He has returned to Lourdes several times over the years, always touched and inspired by the physical and spiritual healings he has witnessed there.

Reflecting on his Lourdes experience, Fr. Kubat believes that Jesus was silent because He wanted him to know that Mary was also his mother.

“He wanted me to know that I can run to her and I’ve run to her many times throughout my priesthood. It’s a big mistake to ignore her and her intercession.”

Fr. Kubat has learned over the past 24 years as a priest to be more patient and to rely on God’s grace more than himself. In a nutshell: “Get out of the way and let God work.”

He’s found that sowing the seeds of faith is much like farming. “Prayer and penance is like the water and sun that are needed to help faith grow, and that takes time, God’s time,” he explained.

Throughout his priesthood, being a doctor has given him a certain authority and credibility when counseling on medical ethical issues concerning beginning and end of life care to his parishioners and those entrusted to his care. He worked 16 years for Catholic Charities and served seven years as the Vicar for Health Care Ministries for the Diocese of Lincoln, where his medical expertise also played a role.

Enters CMA

Fr. Kubat first learned about the Catholic Medical Association 10 years ago when he attended his first Annual Educational Conference (AEC) in Santa Barbara, California at the invitation of Bishop Robert Vasa, at the time CMA’s episcopal advisor. He was instantly impressed.

The high-quality conference provided excellent scientific and medical presentations, allowing for physicians to receive continuing medical education (CME) credits, but unlike other medical conferences, the AEC had Jesus present there, he said. Not only did participants have the opportunity to attend daily Mass, but they also had the opportunity to visit Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration throughout the conference.

“He is the Divine Physician, so He should be there. It was an incredible experience,” he said.

He was equally impressed with the mission and work of CMA and the members, who were faithful to the practice of Catholic medicine.

“When you surround yourself with like-minded people, it strengthens you psychologically and spiritually. It’s like a shot in the arm of encouragement and hope. The support you get is inspiring,” he added.

Fr. Kubat was appointed to serve as the national chaplain starting in 2021 by Bishop Vasa, an appointment Fr. Kubat said was a privilege and a pleasure.

“As a priest, I have a sweet spot for medical professionals in my heart. I know and understand the challenges.”

He admits that the challenges members face today are much more than he ever faced, but as a priest he is able to provide for the spiritual needs of members to help them navigate such times.

He offers Mass and hears confession at CMA events, says monthly Mass for CMA member intentions and provides spiritual insights through his column in The Pulse of Catholic Medicine news page and the Members Only Community Chaplain’s blog. He also works closely with CMA leadership serving on the Executive Committee as well as the Health Care Policy, Ethics and Awards committees. All this and he also serves as pastor of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Tecumseh, Nebraska and St. Mary Catholic Church in St. Mary, Nebraska.

“Saving lives as a physician is very important, but imagine saving someone’s life after which they go on to lose their soul eternally,” Fr. Kubat reflected. “There is nothing more important than saving souls. This is why it is important for medical professionals to see in their patients sons and daughters of God and treat them as such.”