STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Each year the annual White Mass is celebrated for the medical community –doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals — so named for the traditional white jackets
This fall the mass was offered in St. Clare R.C. Churchon Oct. 17 since it’s customarily held near Oct. 18, the Feast Day of St. Luke the Evangelist, patrol saint of physicians and surgeons, remembered for his work as one of the four authors of the canonical gospels.
The White Mass, sponsored by the Catholic Mental Health Professionals of Staten Island and titled “The White Care Mass for Healthcare Professional,” has been hosted for more than a decade by Dr. Constance Salhany, a clinical psychologist.
“It is important to recognize our healthcare professionals for all they do and showing them we appreciate their daily sacrifices for the community,” said Dr. Salhany.
Rev. Arthur Mastrolia, pastor of St. Clare’s, presided over the Mass and explained in his homily the way in which healthcare professionals have proven to be even more important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am honored to be recognizing these faithful individuals who have dedicated their lives to the healing of others,” said Rev. Mastrolia. “Each day they report to work, they are a living example of their faith.”
And prior to the event Dr. Salhany and her colleagues reached out to a number of local schools in hopes of receiving thank you cards to be presented to health care workers at the Mass.
“We received hundreds of handmade cards with special messages for the healthcare workers,” Rev. Mastrolia added, citing examples of the children’s messages in his homily and explaining messages, such as, ‘May God bless you for keep us safe…and “Healthcare workers…you rock!’”
And each year during the Mass members of the community are recognized for their particular contribution.
This year’s honorees included Rita Magnuski, a registered nurse and vice president for Patient Care who’s been with Richmond University Medical Center for 25 years.
Richard Salhany, who served as Deacon of the Mass, described Rita as, “A significant force at the Medical Center who ensures a caring and patient centered approach to patients remains a priority. She is a hero who helped steer the hospital daily operations during the worst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Michael Coyne, associate executive director at Staten Island University Hospital, was also an honoree. Dr. Ted Strange described Coyne as, “A model individual whose life exemplifies a balance between professional success and serving his community and was admitted into the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.”
Laura Parisi was recognized as a lifelong Catholic, with most of her careers in a Catholic setting. Her motivation for becoming a counselor and later a therapist at Cognitive Therapy of Staten Island, was to find ways to bring God’s healing love to those suffering from psychological distress.
The final honoree was Dr. Suzanne El-Sayegh, program director of Internal Medicine Residency Training, associate chairman of medicine, director of nephrology, and associate professor of medicine at Zucker School of Medicine. Dr. El-Sayegh has been recognized for two consecutive years as a “Top Doctor” by New York Magazine and has been the recipient of several awards including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate.
The service ended with more than 50 health care professionals receiving a blessing and certificates of appreciation, as well as the distribution of thank you cards to honorees from school children.