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After Rose Mass, John Carroll Society honors health workers for service to those in need

Cardinal Wuerl, left, joined John Carroll Society leaders and recipients of the group’s annual Pro Bono Health Care Awards at the March 31 Rose Mass Luncheon at Little Flower in Bethesda. From left to right are the cardinal; Dr. Robert Donahue, a dentist who was the recipient of the 2019 James Cardinal Hickey Lifetime Service Award; Carol Bates, the society’s president; Dr. Stephen Tigani, an orthodontist and recipient of a 2019 Pro Bono Health Care Award, standing beside fellow honorees Dr. Sunnie Kim of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Dr. Angus Worthing of Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates; Dr. Melanie Buttross, chair of the 2019 Rose Mass Committee; Father Klaus Sirianni, a chaplain at George Washington University Hospital and recipient of the 2019 Msgr. Harry Echle Award for Outstanding Service in Health Care Ministry; and Msgr. Vaghi, the society’s chaplain. (CS photo/Christopher Newkumet)

For Father Klaus Sirianni, a parochial vicar at St. Stephen Martyr Parish in Washington, D.C., “ministry is wherever you are needed – any place Jesus tells you to go.” Since 2005 the priest, a former chaplain in the U.S. Air Force has been serving both the parish community and as chaplain to the George Washington University Hospital.

Last Sunday, the John Carroll Society honored Father Sirianni and four other healthcare professionals during the organization’s 28th annual Rose Mass and Luncheon held at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland.

Father Sirianni, a native of Germany, moved to the United States with his family as a child and became a naturalized citizen and later graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He was ordained in 1978 and served at St. Mary’s Parish in Rockville, Maryland, and St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Camp Springs, Maryland, before entering the Air Force in 1982. His active duty posts included North Dakota, Illinois, Texas, and Nebraska and overseas deployments in Panama, England, Germany, Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2001 and returned to the Archdiocese of Washington where he served as parochial vicar at St. Jane de Chantel Parish in Bethesda, Maryland, until 2005.

The John Carroll Society presented Father Sirianni with the 2019 Msgr. Harry A. Echle Award for Outstanding Service in Health Care Ministry for his service as chaplain at the George Washington University Hospital. “I’m honored and surprised,” Father Sirianni told the Catholic Standard after receiving his award. He credited a small team of volunteers from the parish who assist him during the week as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and said the most important aspect of visiting the sick, especially those just arrived to the hospital, is one’s “presence – first and foremost” noting that when someone is ill, “the Church has to come to you.”

Doctors Sunnie Kim, Stephen Tigani, and Angus Worthing received the 2019 Pro Bono Health Care Awards for their work with the Catholic Charities Healthcare Network. This archdiocesan program provides specialty health care evaluation and treatment to patients referred by community-based, non-profit primary care clinics. Last year alone doctors volunteering through the network provided more than 5,600 office visits, procedures, and complex surgeries with a value of over $14 million in healthcare services in partnership with three major hospitals.

Dr. Sunnie Kim is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She currently serves as the scientific lead for the study of stomach and esophageal cancers at Georgetown where her research includes using new immunotherapy combinations in the treatment of gastroesophageal cancer. Many of her patients include the uninsured from Central and South America who would be unable to afford treatment without Georgetown’s partnership with the Health Care Network.

Orthodontist Dr. Stephen Tigani, a native of Washington attended elementary school at Little Flower, where he and his family still remain active parishioners today. Dr. Tigani, a graduate of St. John’s College High School and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has been serving the Health Care Network since 1997. Additionally, Dr.Tigani has served his parish as CYO coach, member and former president of the home and school association, and by serving on the finance committee, social concerns committee, school advisory board, and parish council. Tigani and his wife Kathy Tigani are raising four children, Elise, Stephen, Lauren and Alexis.

Honoree Dr. Angus Worthing, a rheumatologist and volunteer with the Heath Care Network since 2015, said in working with those affected by arthritis, it is especially “gratifying to get people back on their feet.” Dr. Worthing relocated to the Washington area after graduation form medical school in his home state of Minnesota. He has worked to improve access to rheumatology care through local advocacy and in the past completed public health research in Peru where he learned Spanish. The Catholic Charities Health Care Network is “critical” for those people who don’t have access to healthcare, he said, adding, “I encourage all medical providers to get involved as it would shorten the wait period for those needing care.”

Named in honor of one of the founders of the Health Care Network, the 2019 James Cardinal Hickey Lifetime Service Award was presented to Dr. Robert Donahue. A native of New York, Dr. Donahue graduated from the dental school at Georgetown University and began practicing dentistry in 1986. He began pro bono dental work on the first day of his practice and has provided care to patients from the Catholic Charities Health Care Network, Mount Pleasant Clinic, Somos Amigos, Navajo Reservation, Native American Indian Public Health Service and at the Missions of Mercy. Dr. Donahue and his wife, Kathleen, have four daughters and three grandchildren.

After the luncheon, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher, who earlier had concelebrated the Rose Mas,s praised the event as “recognizing the healing ministry in the Church – both through the laity and clerics. This Mass recognized healing in our Church today.”