MAYWOOD, Ill. – David De Marco, SJ, MD, is both a priest and a physician. So should you call him Father De Marco or Dr. De Marco?
“I get asked that question daily, if not hourly,” he said. “When I’m seeing patients in a clinic, I’m called Doctor. When I’m in a liturgical setting, I’m called Father. But sometimes I ask people to just call me Dave.”
Father De Marco recently joined Loyola University Health System and Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, where he will wear both a lab coat and a collar as he takes on multiple roles as a priest, doctor, teacher, mentor, chaplain and spiritual advisor.
Loyola’s tradition of treating the entire patient intersects perfectly with the Jesuit tradition that a human being is not just a physical presence, but a child of God with inherent dignity, Father De Marco said.
Father De Marco and his Loyola colleague Keith Muccino, SJ, MD, are the only two Jesuit priest-physicians in metropolitan Chicago, and they are among only a handful of priest-physicians nationwide. Both are internists.“I’m not simply listening to heart sounds,” he said. “I’m listening to a human being who has heart sounds. It’s a more holistic approach that recognizes that a person is not simply a body, but a spirit in the world.”
“We are grateful for the Jesuit Provincial’s willingness to continue to assign men to our work here at Loyola,” said John J. Hardt, PhD, vice president, Mission Integration, Loyola University Health System, and associate provost, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division. “This signals the Society of Jesus’ confidence in our commitment to our mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university and health system.”
Dr. Hardt added that Father De Marco is an ideal fit for Loyola: “He’s kind, a good listener, highly intelligent, a skilled physician and a person of deep faith and humble disposition.”
Father De Marco began his career as a physician. It was while treating patients at a Native American reservation in northern Minnesota that he decided to become a Jesuit priest. He believes it has made him a better physician.
“I try to integrate Ignatian spirituality into my work as a doctor, and I hope my patients can tell,” he said. “Ignatian spirituality, founded on the experiences of the 16th century Saint Ignatius of Loyola, includes the desire to find God in all things,” Father De Marco explained. “No matter what I’m doing, I believe that somehow God is present.”
Father De Marco, who has a special interest in treating the elderly and underserved, will see patients enrolled in Access to Care, a nonprofit primary healthcare program for low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients.
Working at Access to Care is just one of Father De Marco’s many roles, which also include:
- Father De Marco is an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He also teaches the Physician’s Vocation Program where students explore their self-identities at the intersection of faith and medicine.
- Father De Marco serves as a chaplain to students, staff and faculty of Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.
- He interviews applicants applying to Stritch School of Medicine.
- He assists in the spiritual development of faculty and staff of the medical and nursing schools.
- He celebrates Mass at the hospital and University chapels.
Father Muccino said that in his various roles, Father De Marco is “caring, conscientious and highly competent.”
Father De Marco grew up in Ohio and earned his medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, where he later served as chief resident.
While in private practice, Father De Marco became interested in treating underserved populations. He saw homeless patients in Dayton, Ohio, impoverished patients in Honduras and Native American patients at the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.
“On the reservation, I realized that I was exactly where God had invited me to be – working with the underserved,” he said. He interpreted this as a call to make a more radical commitment and become a Jesuit priest.
After serving as a Jesuit novice, Father De Marco earned a master’s degree in healthcare ethics at Loyola University Chicago. He then worked at a faith-based, inner-city clinic in Cincinnati for two years as part of his Jesuit seminary training.
After earning a master of divinity degree from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., Father De Marco was ordained a priest in 2005. He then earned another master’s degree from Weston Jesuit (in spirituality and spiritual direction); trained Jesuit novices; worked nights and weekends at a medical clinic in inner-city Detroit; completed a year-long tertianship (final period of formation in the Society of Jesus); and spent four years serving as a priest and physician on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
“Dave comes to Loyola with a wide and deep experience in leadership, spiritual formation and mentorship, all in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality,” Dr. Hardt said.