Annual White Mass to Feature Nationally Recognized Physician
Dr Ira Byock of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School to present keynote address
September 30, 2012, Worcester, Mass.—On Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. the Diocese of Worcester will hold the Fifteenth Annual White Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Chatham and High Streets, Worcester. At the conclusion of the Mass, Dr. Ira Byock, Director of Palliative Medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School and nationally known physician, will present a keynote address on the myriad of options available to care compassionately for the dying without resorting to the physician assisted suicide contemplated in Question 2 on the November 6th ballot in Massachusetts.
The public is invited to the evening’s events and to participate in prayer for those who work in healthcare and its related fields. Following the Mass, the St. Vincent Healthcare Grants totaling more than $60,000 will be awarded to local organizations at a reception in the Cenacle below the Cathedral.
Most Rev. Robert McManus, S.T.D., Bishop of Worcester, will be principal celebrant and homilist. Bishop McManus holds a doctorate in moral theology from The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and has served on various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including education, respect life, doctrine and healthcare.
“It is an honor for us to host Dr. Byock following our annual Mass to pray for all in the healthcare professions,” noted Bishop McManus. “We are at a critical stage in our society where some are advocating hastening the death of those who suffer rather than making use of the available palliative treatments for pain and suffering including hospice care that can ease their pain in a more dignified manner at the end of life. We all need to learn from Dr. Byock’s extensive experience in caring well for the dying while respecting their human dignity.”
About Dr. Ira Byock
Ira Byock, MD is Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire and a Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
He has been involved in hospice and palliative care since 1978 during his residency. At that time he helped found a hospice home care program for the indigent population served by the university hospital and county clinics of Fresno, California. He is a Past President (1997) of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. During the 1990s he was a co-founder and principal investigator for the Missoula Demonstration Project, a community-based organization in Montana dedicated to the research and transformation of end-of-life experience locally, as a demonstration of what is possible nationally. From 1996 through 2006, he served as Director for Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care, a national grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Dr. Byock has authored numerous articles on the ethics and practice of hospice, palliative and end-of-life care. His first book, Dying Well, (1997) has become a standard in the field. The Four Things That Matter Most, (2004) is used as a counseling tool widely by palliative care and hospice programs, as well as within pastoral care. His most recent book, The Best Care Possible (March 2012) tackles the crisis that surrounds serious illness and dying in America and his quest to transform care through the end of life. It has been praised by the Wall Street Journal and recognized by POLITICO as a key issue book for the 2012 presidential campaign.
Dr. Byock has been a consistent advocate for the voice and rights of dying patients and their families. He has been the recipient of the National Hospice Organization’s Person of the Year (1995), the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship’s Natalie Davis Spingarn Writers Award (2000), the American College of CHEST Physicians Roger Bone Memorial Lecture Award (2003) and the Outstanding Colleague Award (2008) of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. Community Leadership Award, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2011), Compassion in Action Award, Santa Clara University (2011).
He has been a featured guest on numerous national television and radio programs, including NPR: All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and On Being, CBS 60 Minutes, Fox and Friends, and PBS The News Hour.
About the St. Vincent Healthcare Fund
The St. Vincent Healthcare Fund was announced in June 1998 and was started with $1.6 million which had been raised by the St. Vincent Development Foundation prior to the sale of the St. Vincent Hospital to OrNda Healthcorp in 1996. At that time the Foundation ceased its operation. During the oversight process by the Attorney General’s Office, it was determined that the funds that had been raised by the Foundation would be given to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester to support health care programs and services in the community. Some of these funds were restricted to certain areas of use and, as such, grants are awarded in accordance with the original wishes of the donors and in accordance with the original mission of the Foundation, namely to provide financial and other assistance to nonprofit health care organizations to promote the scientific, literary, educational, public health, public safety or civic purposes of such entities for the direct benefit of the residents of Worcester County; to work for the development of medical and health services by supporting and strengthening the services provided by nonprofit health care providers which provide services to Worcester County residents; to support nonprofit organizations which provide for the medical and other health care needs of residents of Worcester County; and to provide for the needs of Worcester County residents through the purchase of medical and other health care services or supplies.
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