When Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory was installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington on May 21, he joined the local Church in the nation’s capital preaching a message of healing and hope.

The Saint Luke Institute, a healing ministry dedicated to serving priests, deacons and religious throughout the Catholic Church, recognized Archbishop Gregory with the 2019 Saint Luke Award for his leadership in the Church and his work that reflects the spirit of the mission of the Saint Luke Institute. 

“I have grown to know and to respect the work that St. Luke’s does for so many different people: religious, clergy, seminarians. You help the Church in caring for its ministers. You do that so generously and so effectively,” the archbishop said at an awards benefit at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 21. 

An anonymous $500,000 gift was also announced at the benefit, which will allow the Saint Luke Institute to continue to expand the medical services provided by the Institute. 

Capuchin Franciscan Father David Songy, president and CEO of the Saint Luke Institute, emphasized the work of the institute, sharing a story during the benefit of a religious sister struggling with depression, whom he called ‘Maria’. By working with the programs and resources that the Saint Luke Institute provides, Maria was able to find healing, he said. 

“But the most important thing for her was that her vocation was revitalized,” Father Songy said. “Not just was she a sister again, but she had a deeper appreciation for the suffering of others...she shared this...and she was able to be even more a minister to others.” 

Established in 1977, the Saint Luke Institute has provided the religious community healing through an education and treatment center that ministers to the psychological and spiritual health of priests, deacons and religious. The institute provides personal care with expert-level staff and doctoral-level clinicians, with treatment spanning from physical to mental/behavioral and spiritual. In its more than 40 years of service, the Saint Luke Institute has ministered to 15,000 people. Its services have expanded internationally and the Saint Luke Institute currently has five centers throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

In addition to serving religious, the Saint Luke Institute also has resources to help prepare seminarians for the priestly ministry they prepare to enter the priesthood. 

“Equally important is that as a Church we ensure that seminarians are psychologically and spiritually mature and ready to undertake their vocations,” said David Brown, chairman of the board of directors for the Saint Luke Institute. 

Brown added that by providing assessments for seminarians, the institute helps ensure the health of the Church for the years to come.

The Saint Luke Award is given to a person whose work, either professionally or charitably, carries out the mission of the Saint Luke Institute, caring for the spiritual and emotional health of religious in need. 

Archbishop Gregory received the St. Luke Award for his leadership in the Church and his support of the mission of the Saint Luke Institute. (Saint Luke Institute Photo: Christine Baumgarten) 

Brown also thanked Archbishop Gregory for his continued support throughout the years of the work of the Saint Luke Institute, particularly noting that while Archbishop Gregory served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops in 2002 implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” 

“And though our local Church has experienced sorrow and challenges, we are buoyed by his healing presence,” Brown said. 

Sister Ellen LaCapria, a Daughter of Charity who sits on the board  of the Saint Luke Institute, said that she appreciates how this ministry can enable priests, brothers and sisters to fulfill their own vocations. 

“You can’t give somebody what you do not have,” Sister Ellen said. 

She said she often encounters religious who are “near burnout,” but the healing ministry of the Saint Luke Institute allows them to “come away refreshed, renewed and able to serve with more fervor and deeper spirituality.” 

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States who hosted the evening, expressed his gratitude for the work of the Saint Luke Institute.

“All of us, in some way, need to be healed,” he said, adding that Christ is the healer. 

“Our mission is to heal people,” Archbishop Pierre continued. “This is also the mission of the Church, to heal people because our world needs to be healed. At times we are surprised because the healers might be sick.”

Brown also expressed gratitude for the benefit chairs, Bill and Mary Noel Page, and their commitment to the mission of the Saint Luke Institute. 

“They inspire us by their vision for a healthier Church and their determination to make it a reality,” Brown said. “They understand that each of us has an indispensable role in strengthening our Church and ensuring that needed psychological and spiritual care is available for all priests and religious.”