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Guild looking for fresh faces


PALM BEACH GARDENS  |  In the spirit of Easter, a local organization of Catholic health-care workers is looking to experience a resurrection of its own.

The Palm Beach Physicians Guild of the Catholic Medical Association was formed in 2016 on the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as a forum for fellowship and guidance on complex biomedical and workplace issues. After some success at gaining members, the pandemic and its related demands on medical personnel served as a deterrent to involvement in the organization.

Dr. Felix Rodgriguez, a medical oncologist from St. Matthew Parish in Lake Worth Beach who has been president of the guild since the start, said the group has held a couple of activities since the pandemic ended, including a White Mass for health professionals at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Delray Beach in November 2022. Now, the guild is moving to a rebuilding phase to serve the medical community in the Diocese of Palm Beach.

“One very important thing that happened the past couple of months is that we worked it up so that we have a 501(c) designation, so we will be able to accept donations,” said Rodriguez, who has been a physician in Boynton Beach for nearly 22 years.

An important aspect for the Palm Beach Physicians Guild, he said, is its connection to the more than 90-year-old Catholic Medical Association. Rodriguez added that, in turn, the CMA’s strength comes from the individual guilds that serve as chapters of the national association, which is linked through a bishop liaison and national chaplain to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The guilds mirror that collaborative relationship.

“In order to create a guild, the national organization has these rules to follow for very sensible reasons,” he said. “We have to have the approval of the local bishop to create the guild, and we have to get a chaplain, so that it’s not just a set of Catholic physicians who are just coming up with their own ideas, to keep it linked to the apostolic Catholic Church. All the guilds throughout the nation follow those same rules.”

In Florida, there is also a state Catholic medical association comprised of a president, vice president and a board that includes each of the local guild presidents, who work in alliance with the Florida bishops, Rodriguez said. The state affiliation has been active during Catholic Days at the Capitol, guiding legislators on controversial medical issues.

Guild members consist of anyone in the medical field, he said. “You don’t have to be Catholic to be part of a guild, but most people who will ultimately belong to a CMA guild are indeed Catholic. That’s how they find out because we do have a liturgical component and formation as well.”

As a guild president, Rodriguez has become involved in the national organization. Three years ago, he was asked to chair the 93rd annual CMA Educational Conference, set for Sept. 5-7 in Orlando at the Caribe Royale hotel. The last time the CMA held a national meeting in Florida was 2021, Rodriguez said. Organizers wanted someone in Florida to take the lead this year.

“It’s been a beautiful pilgrimage, I tell you. It’s been a lot of work, and this is all volunteer,” he said. “It has involved coming up with a theme and inviting plenary speakers. I just finished selecting the breakout conferences in the afternoons.” 

The conference theme is “Imago Dei” (Image of God), “which is a huge theme, not only theologically but also when we think of Catholic bioethics,” Rodriguez said. With help from guild presidents and others around the state, he has been ironing out details for the conference, which will feature daily Mass, the sacrament of penance, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a procession tied to the National Eucharistic Revival. Medical personnel who attend some of the more than 30 conference workshops will be eligible for continuing education credits.

“One of the things that I am praying that we can accomplish with our work is that a lot of Floridians, not only physicians but also health-care professionals from other disciplines, go to the conference, then go to their respective dioceses and join the local guild,” he said.   

Besides planning the conference, Rodriguez wants to make the Palm Beach Physicians Guild known among local Catholic health-care workers and throughout the diocese.  

“I would like to see that we get the message through of this fellowship of Catholic health-care professionals,” he said, “that can be there for one another, understanding that we’re very busy professionals, but that we can help each other maintain our Catholic faith in what we do every day, treating patients and behaving in a very ethical way through the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

To contact Rodriguez about the guild, email To learn more about the Catholic Medical Association and the upcoming educational conference, visit or