Caring for the Homeless is topic of White Mass Breakfast

BRIDGEPORT—James J. O’Connell M.D., president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, will be the featured speaker at the 26th White Mass honoring Health Care professionals on Sunday, April 7, 9:30 am, at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the annual Mass, which will be immediately followed by brunch at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield. The Mass is open to all healthcare workers and the general public.

“Lessons Learned Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers” will be the focus of the talk by Dr. O’Connell, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who has dedicated his medical career to caring for Boston’s homeless.

“Our Holy Father has urged us ‘to serve Jesus crucified’ in every person who is poor, marginalized and suffering, and to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty and abandoned,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Dr. O’Connell has inspired us all with his urgent and sacrificial witness to those who often remain invisible in our lives, though they live in plain sight.”

“Throughout his 30 years at the helm, Dr. O’Connell has continued to serve on the team of doctors that meets patients on the streets, offering food and warm socks, medical treatment and the support of trusted friends. We have much to learn from him and we welcome his presence at the upcoming White Mass,” said the bishop.

Under Dr. O’Connell’s leadership, the Boston homeless program has become the country’s largest and most comprehensive program of its kind, serving more than 12,000 homeless people a year in two hospital-based clinics and more than 60 shelters and outreach sites.

During the White Mass, the bishop will present the Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award to one area healthcare professional and another to a healthcare volunteer. The recipients are traditionally drawn from the ranks of physicians, nurses, dentists, healthcare workers or healthcare volunteers in Fairfield County.

The Father Rufin Award is presented to those who exemplify compassionate and loving care for the sick. It is named after the late Father Rufin Kuveikis, a Capuchin Franciscan who served as chaplain at Norwalk Hospital for 18 years. He died in 2008 at age 86.

About Dr. James J. O’Connell, M.D.:  Dr. O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and received his Master’s degree in Theology from Cambridge University in 1972. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1982, he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). In 1985, Dr. O’Connell began fulltime clinical work with homeless individuals as the founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. With his colleagues, Dr. O’Connell established the nation’s first medical respite program for homeless persons with 25 beds in the Lemuel Shattuck Shelter. This innovative program now provides acute and sub-acute, pre- and post-operative, and palliative and end-of-life care in the freestanding 104-bed Barbara McInnis House.

Dr. O’Connell has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and in the feature-length documentary Give Me a Shot of Anything. He has received numerous awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award in 2012 and The Trustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of MGH in 2011. Dr. O’Connell has collaborated with homeless programs in many cities in the USA and across the globe, including Los Angeles, London, and Sydney. Dr. O’Connell’s book Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor was published in 2015 in celebration of BHCHP’s 30th anniversary.

All healthcare workers and their guests are invited to attend the White Mass. The Mass is also open to the general public.  Breakfast tickets are $35 per person. (Table of 8, $ 250. Sponsor: $100 includes 2 brunch reservations and name listed in the program.) Register online at:

(For further information Contact Elizabeth Auda at:203.416.1636 or email at:

Click here to register for the White Mass!