Spirituality for Today – November 2015 – Volume 20, Issue 4

Doctor Catholic

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of Doctor John HallDoctor John Hall (1935 – 2015)

In 1961 in Scottsville, Kentucky, Catholics were as rare as the proverbial hen's tooth. That year, however, witnessed the arrival of Dr. John Hall and his wife Dell – Catholics. He joined Dr. Owen Davis, the resident physician, as his partner. The locals must have thought that aliens had landed in their town. Dr. Davis, a Methodist, welcomed Dr. Hall and the community soon learned that this "other religionist" was both a competent and kindly doctor. Dr. Hall's wife Dell was a convert to Catholicism. In his article, Partner in Mission, for Glenmary Challenge magazine, author Dale Hanson stated, "With no resident priest living in town, the one Catholic that most people encountered most frequently was Dr. Hall. They quickly discovered he was a good doctor and a kindly man – and would care for people even if they were short on money. Also, Father Dennis [Glenmary priest and pastor of the mission church founded in Scottsville in 1964] says, 'Dr. Hall is upfront about being Catholic.' Dell says she thinks local residents 'concluded we were just normal people who treated them nicely.'" In Scottsville, Dr. Hall was the face of Catholicism and he provided the residents a kindly countenance with a loving gaze. In this month that celebrates Jesus Christ as King of the Universe, Dr. Hall has served his king well.

All of us were baptized to witness. We accomplish this by trying to use the person that we are and fashion it according to the values and principles of Christianity. Some time ago, Ivanka Trump, interviewed on a financial television program, said, 'We only have one life. We have to be the architects of our life." She emphasized a very important point. Each of us is a unique creation and how we use our self-awareness and our free will choices reveal much about how our life will either contribute something of worth to our age or drain vitality from it. If we are trying to serve Our Lord with the life entrusted to us, we cannot help but be aware and thoughtful concerning the impact of our decisions about life on ourselves and others. Those lacking faith might, reasonably, create a life for themselves that is self-directed with little or no concern for the wider effects of their creation. As Christians, we must be concentrated on creating a person who manifests the Great Commandment of loving God, neighbor, and self. From the point of view of society, it expects to discover in the believer in Christ a person that holds to the values of charity, justice, peace, mutual respect and caring, sacrifice for the good of others, and all of the truly loving qualities that we all hope to find in human relations. We all, however, recognize that we must cope with a multitude of stumbling blocks affecting our personalities and challenging our best intentions.

We have not surrendered our lives to bloodless evil, but neither are we in fiery pursuit of goodness. We stare into an abyss so deep we cannot glimpse its bottom, and at the same time raise our eyes to that are unreachable. And we stand between them wavering, unsettled, and uncommitted.

– Hildegarde of Bingen

Dr. John Hall and his wife, Dell were committed to many things in their professional and personal lives, but faith was seen to be their greatest commitment. Ms. Trump opined that we are the architect of our lives and Hildegard of Bingen spoke of the precarious place where we stand as we attempt to draw the design of the edifice of our being. In building anything, the foundation upon which that building, whether of concrete and steel or of flesh and bone, rests determines the strength and future of its purpose. Built on faith, his life and his life's work, melded into an expression faith, fashions an existence that reflects service to God and neighbor. In the constant work of navigating through life, may the light of faith not only show us that path, but also color it.

Practical concerns of everyday living have the unhappy effect of distracting us from the task of making sure that we pay attention to the moral rectitude of our handling of those practicalities. It is at the ground level of what we make of our life that we set the pattern of what people will see and know of us. Dr. Hall made sure that how he practiced his craft left no doubt of the faith and values that attended it. Whatever our vocation happens to be, I pray that "Catholic" is readily seen as essential to defining it.