Our History

Catholic Physicians Guild of the Diocese of Venice

February 17, 1996 Initial meeting called at the request of His Excellency Bishop John J. Nevins. Mass and dinner at the Epiphany Cathedral. A preliminary meeting was chaired by Thomas Kelly M.D. Olivia Becker of the Respect Life Office of the diocese organized the event. Twenty-six physicians and priests were in attendance.

1996-1999 Dinner meetings directed by Dr Kelly were held twice yearly. Bishop Nevins continued to celebrate Mass for the physicians and their spouses. Doctor Kelly arranged for several speakers including Edmund D. Pellegrino M.D. and Rev. Joseph Fessio S.J. Other speakers included Rev. Germain Kopaczynski OFM and Steven White M.D. The Sisters of Bon Secours generously donated the cost of the dinners through this period.

2000-2001 The Guild was established and bylaws adopted through the efforts of Joseph Goggin, M.D. and Sal Cantolino, M.D. Michael Jaquith M.D. assumed the presidency of the guild.

2003 The Guild hosted a “Crash Course in Catholic Bioethics” at St. Martha’s Church in Sarasota. The presenter was Rev. Germain Kopaczynski OFM, Ph.D., S.T.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

2004-2006 Eugenio Erquiaga, M.D. became president of the guild. Meetings and Masses continued twice yearly. 2008 Guild member Stephen Hannan, M.D. organized the first annual bioethics seminar at the Resurrection of Our Lord church in Fort Myers, FL. Its title was: Faith-Based Bioethics: Catholic Tradition in Health Care Ethics.

2008 The Guild completed the process of becoming a chartered guild of the Catholic Medical Association.

2009 Doctor Hannan directed the second annual bioethics conference “Christ in the Storm”. His Eminence Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers was the keynote speaker.

2010 Doctor Hannan and Dr. David Reardon co-directed the third annual bioethics conference “Trust and Conscience”. Speakers included Angela Flippen-Trainer, M.D. and Rev. Tad Pachoczyk, Ph.D. The keynote speaker was Professor Robert P. George, J.D.

2011 Doctor Hannan and Doctor Reardon co-directed the fourth annual bioethics conference “Conscience and Courage”. Speakers included Steven White, M.D., Andrew Trew, Ll.B./J.D. and Rev Tad Pachoczyk, Ph.D. The keynote speaker was Peter Kreeft, Ph.D.

Guild name is changed to the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association. The guild became incorporated.

2012 The guild received non-profit status as a 501 (c) 3 corporation. The Website was launched. Dr Hannan and Dr Reardon co-directed the 5th annual bioethics seminar, “Dignity and Destiny,” with speakers, Rita Marker, J.D., Theresa Deisher, Ph.D., John Haas, Ph.D., and George Weigel.

2013 The guild developed an online registration process to help with conferences and memberships. The guild sponsored its 6th annual bioethics seminar featuring Wes Ely MD of Vanderbilt University, Nik Nikas, J.D. of the Bioethics Defense Fund, Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and Rev. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. from the Magis Institute among other organizations. We also have an increasing number of lectures for our bioethics seminars available for viewing through our website.

Guild members are representing the Bishop on the Florida Catholic Conference’s End-of- Life Committee. Dr Hannan was a adjunct faculty member for the NCBC, lecturing to the bioethics course at St John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. The Guild sponsored the filming of Fr Tad’s lecture, Cutting through the Spin on Stem Cell Research at Bishop Verot High School in 2013.  We also sponsored Rita Marker, J.D. of the Patients Rights Council to give a CME lecture on counseling patients on end of life medical decisions.