Words of Hope – FLG President’s Note

19 March 2020
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dear Friends

My wife and I were talking last night about…everything…and as often happens, she provided me with some excellent insights.  I’d like to share just a few thoughts today.

  1. Shortages.  The pandemic is causing a lot of stress and anxiety; I know I feel it daily.  A large part of my stress is related to those empty store shelves.  Last night I got to thinking about the things that are not in short supply, including: water, electricity, natural gas, gasoline, produce, and dairy products.  This is of course a partial list, but it really got me to thinking how fortunate we are to have such dedicated people working hard in the face of his pandemic to keep the water, trucks, gas, and electrons flowing!  Please join me in praying for them!
  2. Public Masses.  The suspension of public Masses has been a huge point of controversy.  I will leave the arguing to others.  I may be a little slow on this, but it finally dawned on me last night that while I would not choose this, it does present a wonderful opportunity for my family to grow closer together in our spiritual lives.  We already live our faith daily.  We pray together, etc…and…now that we are deprived of attending Holy Mass we can explore ways of compensating as best we can.  Things we are going to try/add include praying the Divine Office as a family, performing Acts of Spiritual Communion, praying more rosaries together (check out this challenge, BTW!), and I’m sure more will come to mind.
  3. Public Masses…me or God?  Don’t get me wrong, I will be very happy when I am again able to attend Holy Mass.  My distress over being unable to has, however, forced me to asking myself, “Am I upset about being unable to attend Mass because I’m going to miss it, or because I will be unable to participate, in person, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because God is Good?”  In other words: Is this about me or God?  Is my disappointment selfish?…yes (at least in part)…and I’m working to root that out!  Please pray for me in this effort!
  4. There’s Still a Lot of Good Out There.  I learned last night that Black Button Distilling, based here in Rochester, has committed to making ethanol-based hand sanitizer and providing it to healthcare organizations at cost.  This will be a wonderful service to our local community and it a great example of people coming together in a time of crisis.  Thank you to everyone who will have a hand in this, and a special thanks to Jason Barrett, Black Button’s President!

There is much more I could say, though I think Fr. Mike says much of it quite nicely.

Please join me in praying for an end to this pandemic.  And, in the meantime, let’s all work to keep ourselves, families, and neighbors physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy!

In Christ,
Tom Carroll
FLG President

President’s Address – COVID-19

17 March 2020
Memorial of St. Patrick, bishop

Dear Friends,

As President of the Finger Lakes Guild and in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, I want you to know that the Guild is here to support our community however we are able.  I know that this is a stressful time for everyone, especially for those directly affected, their loved ones, and the members of their medical teams.  Please know that I, and my fellow Guild members, are praying for you!

As this pandemic evolves over the coming weeks and months I anticipate that questions will arise among faithful Catholics regarding any number of issues.  While I hope and pray that the “worst case scenario” does not come to pass, important questions regarding Church teaching may certainly come up, including the moral acceptability of a vaccine (that will hopefully(!) be developed) against COVID-19, morally licit distribution of scarce resources in the midst of a crisis, and the like.

The Guild encourages anyone with questions about these or other important topics to contact us here, reach out to your parish priest, the Catholic Medical Association, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Catholic Answers, or any other reputable source of on the Catholic Church’s teachings.  Please remember that responsibly engaging in “social distancing” does not mean we are alone.  We must support each other…and…we always have recourse in prayer to our Savior, His Blessed Mother, and all the saints and angels for help!

As this crisis continues to progress it was with a heavy heart that I read yesterday of our Dioceses’ decision to suspend public Masses until further notice.  I know that this only adds to the burden we all already feel.  The the most Blessed Sacrament in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is as close as we can come to Heaven this side of the veil and to have it unavailable at a time like this seems almost cruel.

Nevertheless, given the exponential rise of cases in our country, which is now beginning to affect our local community, I fully support Bishop Matano’s decision to suspend Masses and appreciate his leadership on this gravely important matter.  I also appreciate his reminder that this is a temporary suspension of public Masses and that the faithful should take heart in knowing that our faithful and holy priests will continue to celebrate private Masses for their scheduled intentions and for the current pandemic.

Please also keep in mind that individual churches are allowed to remain open for private prayer and that St. John of Rochester continues (as of the time of this writing) to offer Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in their chapel.  You can check on the status of this wonderful offering via the live stream feed here.  Please remember that even in the absence of Holy Mass we can still encounter our Lord and Savior anytime in prayer, and in a special way in the Most Blessed Sacrament, whether in the monstrance or the tabernacle.

In closing, again, please know that the members of the Finger Lakes Guild are here to support our community.  We will continue to pray for you and we stand ready to care for any and all who fall ill in this time of crisis, whether of COVID-19 or any other ailment.  We ask that you pray for us and that God’s most Holy Will be done.

St. Patrick, PRAY FOR US!
Our Blessed Mother, Comfort of the Afflicted, PRAY FOR US!

In Christ,
Thomas Carroll, MD, PhD
President, Finger Lakes Guild of Rochester

President’s Note – 27 August 2019

As the incoming president of the Finger Lakes Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, I wanted to take a moment to briefly introduce myself and share some thoughts about where I hope to lead the Guild during my term.  By way of introduction, I am a practicing general internist and palliative care specialist, caring for patients in multiple setting including the office, hospital, and at home.  I also have the honor of directing a first-year medical school course at the U of R and am the director of our new Advanced Communication Training (ACT) Program.  More importantly, I am a husband, father of four…and most importantly…a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of His Holy Catholic Church.

We live in challenging times where it seems that technology, and indeed society, are changing at a pace unprecedented in human history.  Whether this is strictly true, there is no doubt that our modern world presents formidable challenges for healthcare professionals trying to live devoutly Catholic lives. 

The overarching goal of the Guild is to assist healthcare professionals in upholding the principles of the Catholic Church in the practice of medicine and pursuit of science.  With the leadership of my predecessors, the protection of our Blessed Mother, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Guild has worked effectively toward that goal with educational offerings, lobbying efforts, and community building.  I hope to build on these wonderful accomplishments and make the Guild an ever more effective force of bringing Christ’s light to the world. 

I see two primary areas of focus for our efforts: the big issues and building community.  The big issues include, though are certainly not limited to abortion, physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia, surrogacy, transgender ideology, and freedom of conscience (particularly in the healthcare professions).  With the Catholic principle of subsidiarity in mind, my hope is to position the Guild as a local leader in promoting a culture of life in light of Catholic teaching.  We will address these big issues though speaking events, journal clubs, lobbying of local and state legislators, and regional meetings in collaboration with our fellow New York Guilds of the Catholic Medical Association. 

Actively engaging our community on the big issues is certainly necessary, though unlikely to be effective without also building community.  I can testify from personal experience that as a practicing Catholic in the modern medical world it is very easy to become isolated.  The Guild is well-positioned to offer a forum for Catholics to find, and offer, support in what is often a daily struggle to stay true to the Church’s teachings in their professional lives.  To this end we will continue Catholics @ URMC meetings, collaborate with the Newman Community at the U of R, establish a mentorship program, organize speaking events and quarterly journal clubs, among other opportunities, all in hopes of sustaining a robust community of Catholic healthcare professionals and interested members of the public. 

St. Paul tells us that “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” (Romans 5:12-21).  In our modern world that seems to have come unmoored from its traditional anchors, I fully expect that the Holy Spirit, though the intersession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is providing graces more than sufficient for our needs, we need only ask.  So please join me in praying for the success of the Finger Lakes Guild in the coming years! 

I would like to make special note of our growing collaboration with St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.  They have been extremely welcoming and supportive…and the FLG is excited to now have a physical home at St. Bernard’s!  We look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration!

I would also like to especially thank The Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano for his support of the Finger Lakes Guild.  We are blessed to have such a wonderfully devoted shepherd for our diocese, and I look forward to continuing to work with him during my time as President.

If you would like more information about the Guild, or to become a member, please see our membership, sponsorship, and upcoming events pages.  I hope to see you at our next event!

In closing, please join me in asking for the intersession of our Blessed Mother, Health of the Sick, and Comfort of the Afflicted…Pray for Us!

In Christ,

Thomas Carroll, MD, PhD

President, Finger Lakes Guild