Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

A Jesuit Vocation Story for the 21st Century

Jesuit Jason BrauningerIt’s not uncommon for Jesuits to discover their vocation to the Society of Jesus while attending Jesuit-run high schools or universities. But Jesuit scholastic Jason Brauninger’s vocation story is different — he found the Society of Jesus on the Internet.

Brauninger was always curious about a religious vocation, but the diocesan and monastic life didn’t seem to fit him. The more he researched the Society of Jesus, the more he felt called to it, despite having never met a Jesuit. What he learned online made an impact. He was struck by the Jesuit commitment to working in the world and the emphasis on using one’s gifts and talents to serve others.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Brauninger had started training as a junior firefighter at the age of 14 and received a bachelor’s degree in fire science before entering the Society. However, while praying during a 30-day retreat as a Jesuit novice, he felt drawn toward the nursing profession. “It wasn’t quite what I expected to hear,” Brauninger says of the discovery. “But everything has fallen into place and it all happened because of the grace of God.”

Brauninger completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Saint Louis University and became a cardiac care nurse. Now Brauninger is at Regis University in Denver, where he lives with the Regis Jesuit Community, works as a trauma nurse at a local hospital and teaches in the school of nursing.

“It is a great privilege to be at Regis. I’m able to continue my formation as a Jesuit, work as a clinician and learn how to be a professor,” Brauninger says. “I love being with the students.”

Regis University

Jesuit Physician Says Assisted Suicide Fails to Attend to the Needs of the Dying

Jesuit Father Myles Sheehan As a Jesuit priest and a physician, Father Myles Sheehan brings a unique perspective to the debate about assisted suicide.

Fr. Sheehan recently spoke to Boston’s Catholic newspaper, The Pilot, about proposed legalized physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts, which he considers a failure to meet the needs of the dying.

“I would like to see that people receive an approach that attends to their suffering in all its dimensions from the beginning of a serious illness,” Fr. Sheehan said.  He said those dimensions include attention to spiritual needs as well as mental and physical needs.

A medical educator trained in internal medicine and geriatrics and an expert in palliative care, Fr. Sheehan currently serves as the provincial of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus.

“This is a place where St. Ignatius said, ‘Love needs to be shown in deeds not words.’ The care and our whole way we approach people as they face the end of life is an issue that needs further attention. A distorted way to attend to it is what has come out of this assisted suicide [movement], but the underlying fears, concerns and discomfort about what the end of life might mean is real whether or not you agree or disagree,” Fr. Sheehan said.

Fr. Sheehan believes fear is a large contributor to attitudes that push people to choose to end their own lives, adding that the healthcare system can address these fears, provided caregivers make a sustained effort to maintain high standards of treatment in the system and in society.

“There is a bottom line that we have the fifth commandment ‘Though shalt not kill,’ and the killing of innocent life is considered intrinsically evil, that is, it is always wrong. And so to take the life, or to provide the means for a person to kill himself is considered an intrinsically evil act, because it violates first the life of the person. Second, it is a larger assault against what it means for human dignity,” Fr. Sheehan said.

Read the full story at The Pilot.

A Jesuit Doctor’s Journey in Africa

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson at the door of one of the hospitals he serves.

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson shares his experiences as a priest and doctor in Zambia and Malawi:

As a young man I had met several priests (Jesuit and non-Jesuit) who inspired me with their lives of generous service, putting their considerable talents wholly at the service of others. But it was a few Jesuits who helped me pray through the Spiritual Exercises that crystallized my desire to enter the Society – largely to grow in the prayerful search for God’s will and to grow in understanding of how I could more fully and more generously cooperate with it. This desire was there for a long time, but it slowly developed as I matured through studies in adolescence and as a young man.

I completed medical studies before I was able to enter the Society and for some time thought I might leave that work behind as a new life developed within the Society. During the years of formation in the Society, my superiors helped me to search for new ways of putting to good use the experiences I had already had – and I became associated briefly with several medical schools for brief periods, moving to different places and meeting different persons as is the custom of a Jesuit scholastic. After ordination I had expected to return to a medical school, but I was given the mandate to go to Zambia. That was in February 1993.

My first assignment in Zambia was at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka – a placement that was very providential since I had the opportunity to meet many fine young doctors with whom I remain friends today and to get acquainted with the expected standards of care in a recognizable but somewhat different environment. For several years afterwards I went to explore work in a Catholic mission hospital so as to understand the distinctive service Catholic hospitals provide. Then I returned to the University Hospital and subsequently to a district general hospital contributing to the teaching of medical students, registrars (residents in training) and clinical officers (physician assistants). In these different settings I was able to help many sick patients. I was also very fortunate to network with sisters, brothers and priests and found that I could assist them and their families. Although I do not celebrate the sacraments in the hospital, I have found many opportunities for ministry in parishes and in retreat work. I have found that I have quite enough leisure to be of help in spiritual direction over these many years.

During the last 10 years of work in a district general hospital, I was able to source some funds to effect major improvements of the equipment of the hospital for the surgical theatre, for the ablution blocks and for the laundry. By some unexpected providential meetings, I began hosting a series of international students who came to get a month’s sense of medical work in an African setting.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jesuit Continues Century-old Tradition of Jesuit Chaplains at Chicago Hospital

Jesuit Father Joel MedinaJesuit Father Joel Medina, a former nurse who was recently ordained at age 56, is the newest Jesuit chaplain at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, where the Jesuits have had a continual presence for more than 100 years.

Fr. Medina celebrated his first Mass as a newly ordained priest in the hospital chapel.

“I think it will be a rich experience to be a priest and to serve patients in any way I can,” said Medina, who is familiar with the hospital, as he served there as a Eucharistic minister when he was studying at Loyola University Chicago.

Medina, who is fluent in English and Spanish, said he is looking forward to working with the diversity of people who serve as employees and volunteers at the hospital.

For more on this story, visit the Chicago-Detroit Province website.

Former Nurse Becomes a Jesuit Priest at Age 56

medinaAs a nurse, Joel Medina treated physical ailments. Now, he wants to treat spiritual ones.

After years working in health care, the 56-year-old has traded his scrubs for the collar of a Jesuit priest.

“I was interested in serving people,” Medina said. “I felt the call to do that by serving as a priest.”

Medina started his career in health care at age 19, working as a nursing assistant. He went on to become a registered nurse  and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University in Detroit. He then worked about 16 years off and on at the University of Michigan hospital.

That all ended nine years ago, when Medina applied to be a Jesuit and entered The Society of Jesus at Chicago-Detroit Province’s Novitiate at Loyola House in Berkley, Mich.

Friends and family said they weren’t surprised by the decision.

“We always knew (the priesthood) is where he’d end up,” said Medina’s sister, Linda Berkemeier. “He was sensitive and interested in theology. We were just waiting for him to do it.”

Read more about Fr. Joel Medina at mlive.com.