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Dr. Elizabeth Abraham gave an exam to two-year-old Delaney Givens at St. Teresa Pediatrics in Shrewsbury on Sept. 24. As a Catholic physician, Abraham sees that it’s her “responsibility to be as scientifically minded as possible.”
Dr. Elizabeth Abraham gave an exam to two-year-old Delaney Givens at St. Teresa Pediatrics in Shrewsbury on Sept. 24. As a Catholic physician, Abraham sees that it’s her “responsibility to be as scientifically minded as possible.”
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Faith and science go hand in hand, says Catholic physician

Dr. Elizabeth Abraham leans on Catholic faith in guiding her practice

There’s no contradiction between faith and science, said Dr. Elizabeth Abraham.

As a Catholic physician, Abraham sees that it’s her “responsibility to be as scientifically minded as possible.” And at the same time, she also believes that “all gifts — including what gifts I have been given — are from God, and that we have to use them for His glory.”

In December of 2018, Abraham opened St. Teresa Pediatrics in Shrewsbury. She and her staff provide primary care for children and adolescents through 22 years old. A part-time certified nurse practitioner, Agnes Bayer, also specializes in treating bladder and incontinence issues and is a certified Creighton Model FertilityCare practitioner, working with adolescents in understanding their fertility cycles.

Abraham also recently was trained as a FertilityCare/NaPro Technology medical consultant out of a desire to help adolescent girls who encounter gynecological problems. She is one of three pediatricians worldwide to date to have this training, she said.

Some might question why natural fertility care has a place within pediatrics, Abraham said, but “it’s important because it provides a medical record for what’s going on with a young lady’s menstrual cycle,” such as debilitating cramps, excessive bleeding or other abnormal symptoms. Girls often are put on birth control as a way to manage the symptoms, but it doesn’t address the underlying issues, she said. “The charting provides much more insight into what’s going on with her body,” Abraham said.

Abraham named her practice after St. Teresa of Avila, a Spanish Carmelite nun, who reformed the Carmelite Orders, which eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites. After praying about the name at the Carmelite Monastery in St. Louis, Abraham received a sign of affirmation, when during a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Snows in Belleville, Ill., she had a butterfly land at her feet.

In “The Interior Castle,” a spiritual development guidebook written by St. Teresa, she wrote that the butterfly is “the symbol of the soul’s transformation,” Abraham said. “This was a confirmation from Teresa.”

Several years ago, Abraham developed a vaccine schedule that minimizes the number of vaccines with aborted fetal cell lines, but also adheres to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for immunizations. The Catholic Church has long held that the use of vaccines with aborted fetal cell lines are morally permissible if no other alternative exists; however, Catholic leaders, including the U.S. bishops, have advocated for the creation of vaccines without the use of human cell lines from aborted babies.

Many of her patients are unaware of the connection between abortion and vaccines, she said. One of the challenges is finding time to talk to parents about this, as routine visits are typically short and to the point. She also has to balance that with not knowing where parents might fall on the abortion issue; but nevertheless it’s an important topic, she said.

With her faith guiding her and science as a foundation, Abraham said that she often prays to God for wisdom in her work as a physician. “Humility has to play into it,” she said, and “asking for your patient to be healed. You do the best you can, but you have to let God do the work.”

>> White Mass

The annual White Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. A reception will follow Mass in Boland Hall adjacent to the Cathedral. The Mass is associated with St. Luke, the patron of physicians and surgeons, whose feast day is Oct. 18. It takes its name from the white coat most commonly worn by those in the medical field. The Mass is an opportunity to thank and bless those who work to heal and an opportunity to celebrate health among us.

>> Catholic Medical Association

The St. Louis Guild of the Catholic Medical Association is a community of healthcare professionals that informs, organizes, and inspires its members, in steadfast fidelity to Jesus Christ the Divine Physician and to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, to uphold the principles of Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine. To learn more about the organization, visit stlouiscma.org.

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