Dr. Thomas McGovern
Dr. Thomas McGovern
Suffering and compassion were the topics Oct. 28 at a Mass and talk for Catholic health care professionals in western Oregon. 

During the Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Portland, Archbishop Alexander Sample reflected on Scripture, comparing the biblical call to care for widows and orphans to the duty of health workers to serve people with compassion. The archbishop explored Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, urging physicians, nurses and others to ask themselves, “Who is my neighbor?” He called on the whole church to care for communities on the margins, including immigrants.  

After the Mass, the Portland Guild of the Catholic Medical Association held a dinner with the archbishop at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Keynote speaker was Dr. Thomas McGovern, who knew the archbishop from college days and made everyone laugh with some good-natured stories. 

Then Dr. McGovern became serious, giving a lecture titled “Suffering: What I wish I had learned in medical school.”

The talk — which highlighted the need for an integral understanding of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering people endure — was still reverberating days later. 

Msgr. Gerard O’Connor, director of divine worship for the Archdiocese of Portland, cited it during a homily for staff at the pastoral center. Msgr. O’Connor suggested that he and other church workers would do well to be compassionate and “suffer with” others, including those going through emotional anguish. The monsignor recalled a former parishioner, a father of five, who was losing his house. The man said that he would rather have cancer than deal with that trauma and difficulty.