Another Pandemic Story: A Catholic Dentist's Perspective
By Mark Venincasa, MTS '19
Date published: May 29, 2020
As a faith-filled dentist, with an upcoming ordination into the Diocese of Dallas
Permanent Diaconate (scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 2020, at 10am, on www.cathdal.org), this pandemic certainly affected me. Just as the pandemic was beginning to affect
life within our area, all of a sudden, our state governor abruptly shut down all dental
offices from mid-March through April 30, 2020. The only patients that my practice
could care for were those who had either a medical emergency or who could not eat.
Even though we were considered “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” I did
not feel essential.
While I understood the rationale for the executive orders of our governor, I lost
the freedom of work. While other health care professionals, grocery store workers,
truck drivers, auto repair centers, and more were contributing to keeping the economy
and community services going to some degree, I had been relegated to the sidelines.
And this did not sit well with me as my faith was informing me that I needed to do
more than just sit on the couch, watch “Tiger King” on Netflix, and wait for the next
With this inner desire to serve, I threw my energies into doing research on this novel
coronavirus, studying how it affects our communities, and how it would affect my delivery
of dental care. I spent hours researching this, and as time went on, websites were
expanding with more and changing information. With all this new scientific knowledge,
I decided to share my cited research from primary reputable sources online, through
my dental practice newsletters and website, my LinkedIn profile page, my Facebook
dental practice community page, and within my Facebook personal profile page. I also
shared online in other postings how my faith was assisting me in enduring the pandemic.
In these ways, I was contributing in a different way. As an aside, these research
and writing skills were refined during my recent MTS studies within the Neuhoff School
of Ministry, for which I am so grateful!
As a result of these activities online, many offered their thanks for the non-political
and fair presentation of facts as well as for sharing my faith. Some “shared” my postings
within their own social media outlets. To add, as my practice was allowed to open
up again, my patients returned to my practice with a trust and desire that I could
not have anticipated; my “busyness” was back to normal in the third week following
the closures! I am so thankful for this as our closure was financially devastating.
During this pandemic, I also found that my faith can carry me through anything. During
this pandemic, I also saw that God was leading my efforts, that my desire to serve
was ever-present, and that I was able to change my work to a way that others found
refreshing, desirable, and perhaps “essential.” May we always do our best to serve
our God and others well, always!
The University of Dallas has announced a new director of civil rights, Luciana Milano. Milano, who has a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard College and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, began her new role on Oct. 12.
“This is the first time we’ve had a scholarship in honor of a great Catholic intellectual — and now, within the last year, saint,” said President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83, by way of introducing the St. John Henry Newman Scholarship in Philosophy recently endowed by alumnus Matthew Hejduk, MA '98 PhD '06, and his wife, Julia Hejduk, Ph.D. Julia was a colleague of Hibbs during his time at Baylor University, where she teaches in the Classics Department.
Michelle Cortez-Gonzales, MFA ’20, was a Fort Worth ISD high school teacher with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Texas at Arlington when she decided to go back to school to get her master’s. At the recommendation of a friend, she visited UD, and knew immediately from the wooded area around the Art Village, the architecture of the buildings, and the faculty members she met that UD was the place for her.