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Jesuits and Medicine: A Holy Experience

February 16, 2010 – When a health care provider assists a patient who asks for help, the experience “exudes holiness,” Rev. James Duffy, S.J., said at a Jesuit Heritage Week panel earlier this month.

“Practicing medicine is one of the greatest gifts from God,” said Duffy, assistant dean for clinical education.

Medical students, physicians, faculty and staff packed a conference room at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Feb. 2 to listen to the panel talk about how Jesuit doctors and nurses are influenced by their religious vocation.

“If you can help people grow and ease their pain, that is the privilege of being a Jesuit and practicing medicine,” said Rev. Jon O’Brien, S.J., during the event..

Rev. Brian Conley, S.J., moderated the talk, which also included Rev. Timothy Godfrey, S.J., a registered nurse and former director of campus ministry; O’Brien, former dean of students and faculty member of psychiatry; and Rev. Jack Siberski, S.J., geriatric psychiatrist.

Dignity of Human Life

“Each person has so many gifts and strengths. You [as a doctor and nurse] see what they are living with,” Godfrey said. “Some people taught me things about God and how God always comes at the right time.”

Though prayer plays a part in their roles as caregivers, the panelists said they respect the boundaries of their patients. “Pray for your patients if they ask,” O’Brien said. “Pray for your colleagues if they ask. If you want to be nourished, it’s there, and it is open for you.”

The panel, held on the Medical Center campus, was just one of many events marking Jesuit Heritage Week, which took place Jan. 31-Feb. 6.

The week gave the university community a chance to explore Georgetown’s roots through special Masses and informal interactions with members of the Jesuit community.

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