Dr. John Bruchalski earned his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 1987. He completed his OB/GYN residency at Eastern Virginia Medical Center and the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1991. He received board certification in 1993. He is the Founder and President of Divine Mercy Care and the Founder of Tepeyac OB/GYN in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the author of the book, Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine (Ignatius Press).
- Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine (book)
- Divine Mercy Care
- Catholic Medical Association
- The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Dr. John Bruchalski was a physician who practiced abortion, but he came to question his views and eventually became a pro-life OB/GYN, helping thousands of women bring their children to term. We’re going to talk to them today on Crisis Point. Hello, I’m Eric Sammons, your host, and editor in chief of Crisis Magazine. Before we get started, I just want to encourage people to smash that like button and to subscribe to the channel. Also, you can follow Crisis Magazine at Crisis Mag at the various social media challenges.
So Dr. John Bruchalski, I’m give his bio here, then I have a little story to tell. It’s going to be story time hour. So he earned his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 1987. He completed his OB/GYN residency at Eastern Virginia Medical Center and the Jones Institute of Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia.
In 1991, he received board certification 1993. He is the founder and president of Divine Mercy Care and the founder of Tepeyac OB/GYN in Fairfax, Virginia. And he is the author most recently of this book, Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine, which is from Ignatius Press. Excellent book. We’ll talk about this in a little bit.
Now, I told you, I warned you this ahead of time, but I’m going to start this interview differently than most times. Usually I ask you to talk about something, but I have to do this because people don’t know this, but you had an amazing effect on my family of which we’re just eternally grateful.
So my wife had four healthy children, no problems. Then all of a sudden we had three miscarriages in a row all at 14 to 17 weeks. So not early. After the first one, our doctor told us, “Oh, it’s probably just, this happens sometimes,” and it does. So we didn’t do anything. Second time, he was like, “Okay, let’s look into this,” but couldn’t figure anything out. The third time it happened, this is over a three-year period, our OB just said, “I really don’t know.” I give him credit for being honest. Good guy. He was a good doctor. We liked him, good Catholic guy and everything.
But we of course at this point feared we would not be able to have kids anymore. We were only in our 30s. We wanted more children, we wanted a big family, and we thought maybe this was God telling us, “That’s it for you, the four,” and we were very obviously blessed with four. I’m very happy about that.
But we were living in Washington D.C. area at the time, and somebody told us, “There’s this pro-life doctor, this Catholic doctor down in Virginia, go check him out.” And we’re like, “Okay.” But we didn’t really get the connection to us and we got later. It’s almost like, “Who cares that he’s a pro-life doctor, Catholic doctor because we have this medical problem.” I don’t care if it was an atheist or a Muslim, whatever, if it’s a doctor that could help us, I didn’t care. But they were like, “No, go see him. He does things a bit differently.” I was like, “Okay. We are desperate.”
So sure enough, we set up an appointment, a consultation with you. I remember exactly the office we were sitting in. I remember talking to you. We told you our story. Most importantly to us, you listened, which I’ll be honest, viewers of this podcast know I’m not a big fan of the medical establishment and often it’s because they don’t listen, I feel like. But you listened to us, you talked to us, you wanted to hear. First thing you did, you prayed with us. I remember that very distinctly. You just said, “Let’s pray first.” We prayed together and then we talked.
And what was amazing was within, I want to say within 10, 20 minutes, a very short time, you were very confident that my wife could have a baby again, could bring a baby to term. And I was a little bit shocked by that because I was like, “We’ve had these problems.” In fact, I told my wife this later, I was a little concerned that you were giving us false hopes and that wouldn’t happen.
Well, needless to say, within a year we had a daughter named Hope, and it was because of you. And it’s obviously through God, but it was because of you. And we had two more children later using the methods, and I don’t even remember exactly. My wife’s like, “Do you know what was wrong with me?” And I say, “I can’t remember that stuff.” I’m like, “I know something.”
Because of course, she could go and say exactly what’s wrong, exactly what you did, the medicines and everything. But the point is, is it’s because of you, we have three more beautiful daughters and I’m just very thankful. So before we even get started, I had to tell that story and I’m going to have to stop it here before I get choked up. So thank you, Doctor, and thank you for coming on. How do you like that introduction?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
It is humbling and a little embarrassing, but you know what, Eric? Isn’t it a blessing when people can relationally come together on the issue of health and see health rather than disease, but just listen to one another? It’s really an amazing blessing that the Lord has provided for us in the world of healthcare, especially in Catholic medicine today.
Yeah, and that was the thing, you listened. And I remember even after we were finished with the technical aspects of the consultation, you would start asking my wife about her other pregnancies and how the kids were. You wanted a complete picture. You wanted to know not just, “Okay, let’s go in there and look with the microscope of something,” but it’s like, “No, let’s talk to this person, find out what’s going on, find out what they want and all that.” And so that’s supposed to be what medicine’s all about.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
In the way of Hippocratic medicine, everything is on the table, meaning the one-story narrative that the more Marxist medical establishment is pushing, whether it’s on viruses or whether it’s on statin use with cardiovascular disease, or an OB/GYN, whether abortion is essential healthcare, there’s only one way, and that’s not medicine and neither is doing all these testing. It’s really about history, listening, thoroughness, body, soul and spirit, and then a good physical exam. And then from that, you tailor certain lab tests or x-rays or ultrasounds, and then you come up with a diagnosis. And if at the foundation is health is relational, and it’s really Christ’s relation with us at the deepest essence of it, faith and reason come together. It’s like that black hole. It’s like the Omega point or the singularity, faith, reason, spirituality, medicine come together and it’s with a person called Christ. And your life should be different. Not that you should go against in medicine, especially, because it’s so complex. And I’m grateful for Miss Grace and for you, Eric. So give your wife a hug when you see her tonight.
I will do that. And I think one of the things that we noticed that you… And we’re going to talk a little bit more about your story, your book and things like that, but one of the things we noticed was that one of our frustrations in, for example, with raising our kids, is schooling of course. In so many Catholic schools, they’re basically public schools that throw a crucifix on the wall. And I feel like the same is often true of Catholic doctors. That yes, they’re Catholic, but they’re basically just… They’re not bringing their faith into their practice of medicine, which I think some people would be horrified, secular people particularly horrified, to even hear that as a suggestion. Why would you bring faith in? What are you going to be like a snake charmer or something like that.
And yet that’s exactly what it seems like you’ve tried to make your mission, is to integrate the Catholic faith with your practice of medicine. And we saw it in practice. But let’s just jump right to that. How do you see that relationship between your Catholic faith and your practice in medicine beyond just, “Oh, you tell people you’re Catholic”? And it went beyond just you praying with us as well. That was more than most, but so much more than that. How do you see they relate to each other?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
It’s essentially a Venn diagram because I was both a history major and a biology major at a great Jesuit college in Mobile, Alabama, Spring Hill College. It was mentioned by Martin Luther King from his Letter from a Birmingham jail. And he was talking about how equitable and how fair, how just it was. And at the heart of medicine, it’s about truth and justice. It’s observing the physical universe.
So the Venn diagram of faith and reason, medicine and spirituality is not mutually exclusive. There is overlap. And the reality is, is that we have elevated, it’s whether it’s hubris or hummus, you have to realize that you’re dirt and that you’re products of a creator, you’re children of a Abba, of a father, you’re part of the family, human family that’s bound by genetics. And the science of the world, the physics, the chemistry, the biochemistry tells you how it operates, but it doesn’t tell you what it’s for, caring for another human being.
When my students and so many of my peers who are burned out, they went into medicine because they felt called into medicine. And that could be Hindu, that could be Roman, that could be Orthodox, it could be Jewish, it could be Protestant. They felt called. Something greater called them. And it’s the spirituality that provides the deeper meaning of life, death, care for the sick. It actually can transform illness into an opportunity of transformation and conversion. If you allow it, if you accompany that person through that.
If you look at the person as a car, as a product, it becomes mechanistic and dead. It becomes inert and you can manipulate. So we are now making embryos that are your property, not your children. You own them, you don’t love them, so we freeze them. And now, we’re in a question in Catholic theology that has no answer. We’re at a point where in morality, where it’s really challenging.
So with that said, the way that we have done it is that you use it both end. And Medicine, because it’s become a science, because it’s become a religion. Reproductive health is the religion, abortion becomes the centerpiece. So it is incredible for me to be on crisis point because we are at a crisis point. The world of the earth, the city of man, the city of woman is saying that abortion is essential healthcare. And it should be enshrined at the core.
So something at the core of medicine, which is Hippocratic and don’t provide abortions, there’s something wrong. In fact, there’s something sick. In fact, we’re at a crisis point, because if you lose… Remember ultrasounds have been here as long as Roe has. We have seen into the womb better than we ever have. We now have 5D, 7D, we have coming out parties of boys, girls. Now, it’s gender-fluid.
And yet in the face of this, they’re losing the scientific argument. So they want you, “No, no, no, no. It’s patient autonomy.” It’s not about, you don’t know anything about what’s good for patients. The ought is no longer there. It’s only about the provider service model. And there’s a lot of good people out there talking about the way of medicine. Well, we’ve practiced it for 30 years. Theology of the body, 30 years. We do it every day.
And the reality is, is that the mercy of the teachings of the faith, the moral and ethical faith and reason, the tradition and scripture, that’s merciful because we can look back and see. We don’t have to fall for every fed. And so by bringing it into… Don’t hang it up before you enter the arena, the surgical arena or the medical office or the bench of science, bring everything because we have a seat at the table of the public square. What father talked about.
Right. And I think what was interesting to me is that your faith seemed to be so integrated in your practice, in that you would talk about… Like I said, I remember our consultation very well, but I remember you would talk about how the literature says, “Oh yeah, we won’t only do this anymore, but in my practice it still works, so I’m going to keep doing it.” You weren’t slavish. You seemed to be always up on the latest literature. What the latest medical breakthrough was, which is nice, but yet you weren’t slavish to it of like, “Okay, what does the established tell me I have to do?” He’s like, “No, I know what in practice. “I think one of the things, I think you gave my wife, she had to take aspirin or something like that, and you said, “Oh yeah, they’re saying not to do anymore, but I know it works in my practice, so I’m going to keep telling people,” and things like that.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
It was just very interesting. And you told the story of a, this is what gave me a little bit of confidence it could work, what you’re doing, is when you told my wife and I that, I guess a woman from Africa or something like that, who had had, I don’t know, a dozen abortions or something like that.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Nine. Okay. Had a conversion, but now wanted to conceive, and of course everything is in bad shape down there, but you helped her to bring a baby to term. And I was like, “If he can do that.” And it’s funny because it’s I want to say you’re a miracle worker, and in a sense you are, but yet in another sense you’re not because you really are following the actual science as well. So that was one thing I noticed, was your ability to not be beholden to whatever the latest journal said, told you to do.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
So in my life, I once bought the lie that abortion was good for women and that fertility was a chain around their freedom. Because my friends, who were the books that I learned from, live books, living stones, some people, these are living books to me, they said, “Oh no, I need this for happiness.” But over time, they didn’t become happy.
And so evidence-based medicine, which is what real doctors should be doing, you have to understand that it is evidence-based, based on their starting premise and questions. Once you start moving away from, what is health? What is illness? And then throwing aside the wages of sin are death and that children are really gifts from God, rather than sexually transmitted diseases. And human flourishing is about looking at the whole person, body, soul and spirit, the psyche, the body, the aloe and homeopathic ways of doing this, as well as spirituality, that we are created in the image.
Well, it’s that whole picture that then dictates, “Well, wait a second, you’re getting evidence to support your way because you’ve rigged the system. We now say life doesn’t begin until whenever the hell the mother says it does. The heartbeat doesn’t start until there’s valves, and that’s 20 weeks, 22 weeks.” Right? Well, no, tell any mother that what she hears at five and six weeks is not her baby’s heart. It’s absurd.
Or tell the IVF family, well, there’s seven embryos you left behind in the freeze tank. Jerome Lejeune was right. It is a concentration camp. And just the sadness, even though she’s got children and she’s happy, she’s now realizes that those others are frozen. So it goes against common sense. And so it’s that way of using scientific literature and it’s not about punchlines, Eric. I look behind you and I see the Angelus over one shoulder and I see beautiful images and a crucifix and a hug from the cross, it looks like.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
And you’re a storyteller now, so this might be half the way you’re going to have to open up all your programs, but you’re hitting me in my brain. And that’s the secret. Science only gets you so far, but you have to know what questions are at the foundational levels and that will determine of how and why you follow the science. That’s all.
Yeah, and I think this is… I’m not even following my notes here because this is too fascinating. We’re just going to do this as it comes. And I do want to talk about your experience with abortion in your earlier life, things like that, in a little bit. But I want to just keep talking about medicine because I feel like a lot of Catholics, particularly after the COVID situation, have gotten a very hardy skepticism of the medical establishment.
And I’ve had it for a long time myself because aside from you, I’ve had just experiences with doctors where it’s like they have a checkbox, they check things off. I’ve literally had doctors do something for me and tell me, “So did get better?” And I said, “No.” And they said, “Well, it should have.” And then it’s like, “Okay, and that’s it, I’m done with you now,” because it didn’t do what the book told them it was supposed to do. I didn’t respond the way they wanted me to.
And so how as Catholics, are we supposed to, lay Catholics who are not in the medical profession, how are we supposed to approach our doctors and the medical establishment when we need to interact with them when we have such a heavy distrust of them now? What should be our way of looking at medicine and the establishment way of doing things?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
And obviously you’re saying this after COVID.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
There’s an incredible distrust in medicine. But for me, you’re also saying it after Humanae Vitae, when the world said, “Oh, no, no, no, 90% of people follow contraception. We should be able to separate love and life. They don’t turn off the limbic system. So we’re still interested in sex. It still has all the positive pleasures that come along with it and the children, oh no, wait, no, no more children. We’ve just eliminated those, but we don’t treat the limbic system. And now we’re left with unwantedness in crazy percentages.”
So I have been somewhat skeptical, especially after when I woke up from my slop experience. Remember, I bought the lie. I can’t throw stones at anybody. I’ve met the enemy and the enemy is me. That’s Pogo. I’m 62, Eric. I’m a lot older than you. You’re like my younger brother or something with a good-looking beard, all that stuff.
But what I’m saying is, is that medicine with using contraceptive for every single possible disease, “Don’t do the diagnosis, just give her the pill. Don’t work through the physical problem of maybe the woman has diabetes or hypertension.” Well, five decades, the Catholic and non-Catholic, the medical world, has been saturated in abortion and contraceptive literature.
And for the vast majority of us, we’ve kept quiet, to the point of least resistance. “Come on, save myself. I don’t want to be seen as a nut. Yes, I’ll pray.” But there’s been a lot of great people. But even myself, I was quiet for so long. And then once you do a little one, it hooks you and then your heart gets hardened, and then you steal yourself when you have to take off arms and legs because the bones are there. And then when the baby gets to be five pounds, you got to evacuate the skull with a pair of scissors and a suction cannula and God have mercy on me. And he did.
And then it’s a DNX. You literally grab them by the feet, pull them to the bottom, empty the skull, then pull it out. That’s what I learned. That’s what I taught others to do. And it’s slowly but surely you get boiled slowly. Just like Biden is now boiling us in the frog with religious freedom. “Oh, I’m going to take this away. I’m going to take this away.” Well, I’m a Polish kid. I had one meeting when I was eight or nine. I sat down in the corner of our dining room with Solzhenitsyn talking to my dad. This is like the gulag guy. This is like what it is. And I can see something like this coming down the path.
And so getting back to your question, once Roe became law, and well, I can’t recommend against it, but I can’t stop you from doing it because what’s good for you is not… I can’t tell you what to do. We’ve relativized everything. And even the chaos within the church and with outside the church, it’s situational ethics verse foundational objective truth. And justice becomes fungible when you eliminate gender and you eliminate truth and you eliminate law and you can interpret scripture or the law in whatever way you want, might makes right? ACOG, my professional organization, it’s nothing more than a lobbying organization.
And so what I would say to your patients is contact the Catholic Medical Association, contact the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Now, these are all academic centers, but contact people like at divinemercycare.org. We’ll get back with you. We’ll give you advice. The thing is, is that you need the language and the simplicity to ask your doctor the questions. I suffered a complete heart block in November. So one year and a half ago I developed an autoimmune disease and I lost the use of my right arm. The ulnar nerve got an inflammation, possibly because of a virus, who knows? But the medical profession won’t talk about it.
Number two is, I developed a severe heart block. My heart rate went down to 25 per minute. So I saw the best and the worst of modern medicine. When you are in trouble, like life and death, ICUs, intensive care units, high-tech medicine, catheterizations, a heart ablations, pacemakers of Medtronics. My God, thank you Lord, it saved my life. Because I’ve been sick most of my adult life since I’ve… Before I saw you, for the last 30 years alongside Tepeyac and Divine Mercy Care, I’ve been very sick many times because I need to be humbled. I need to figure out how to be a patient because we’re all sinners.
And so when you go, you need to talk to somebody that you trust, whether it’s your priest or whether it’s Crisis Magazine, or talk to some docs that… But get it basically put into place so you can stand up to your doctor. Because after my pacemaker, he’s like, “Oh, you need a statin. Well, you understand that the statins, the endpoints are not based on what you’ve just told me. Yes, there’s discussion about that,” he said. And oh, by the way, the peer-review journals don’t review the original data. The original data is held by the medical industrial complex. Just like when I was at the Contraceptive Research and Development Center in Norfolk, Virginia, learning this as a resident, we were beholden to all the companies, all the big pharmas.
And all of a sudden you begin to see the perversion. And now, it’s what? It’s the service model of medicine, where you become a customer, you need to say, “I’m excellent.” I need to treat you because you’re patient autonomous. If you ask me for an abortion, I have to give it to you because it’s legal, technology can do it, and you’ve asked for it. Those are the big three. There’s no deeper questions. It’s not about justice or truth or the ending of life, and yet, through medical technology, we can care for the mother and make those cases. We never pit mom against baby. And that’s why.
So we tell patients and we accompany them. It’s literally accompaniment in the best sense of that word. And I think we can reclaim it in truth, justice, and love, but do it in real mercy. As Flannery said, “John, mercy leads to the gas chamber.” Right? That’s what she wrote about. Well, that’s the mercy of mercy killing, eugenics, euthanasia, because all words have lost meaning. And now, logic has lost meaning, even though there’s still definitions, but we don’t communicate. So you only can witness love now, witness the truth with your life. And Archbishop Chaput has said that.
So I would just tell your patients, you can’t read all the studies. You do the best you can there. You look up what feels like that supports what you’re doing, but then call somebody within the faith, and especially someone like us who’s had to do it practically, or the National Catholic Bioethics Center or CMA, or if you’re non-Catholic, Christian medical and dental. And then you just work your way through and you do your best out there when you’re witnessing to the doctors because you have to witness mercy.
Okay. So it’s interesting, because in my own experience finding a doctor, I ended up finding a Catholic guy new, who he’s a physician’s assistant, or I guess that’s what it’s called, out of a urgent care. And yet he’s wonderful. And so that was something for me, I had to take myself out of the standard way of looking at things that you had to do things a certain way. You had to go to this type of doctor, whatever.
This guy, I would’ve never thought five years ago, even 10 years ago, “Oh, you’re going to be seeing a guy out of an urgent care.” I’d be like, “Well, of course not. That sounds kind of shady and not very…” No, this guy’s great, because like you, he listens, he’s looking not just to say, “Okay.” And I thought what you said about contraception, I’ve never seen a connection until you start bringing up. It’s this idea that you have a pill to cover up the real underlying issues. And that’s what often so many doctors do. They’re giving you a pill to cover up the actual problem, just like contraception does, that’s what so in so many things, “Doctor, I have this, this hurts right here. Okay, I’ll give you a pill and it’ll stop hurting.”
Dr. John Bruchalski:
You just write the script and you give it. Right.
“Yeah, but why is it hurting? Maybe I’m taking a bat and I’m hitting it every day with it, Doctor. Maybe you should ask about that or something like that. Oh no, we’ll just give you this pill and you won’t feel it as much when you hit it with a bat.” It’s like, well, hold on a second. You got to look at so many more things than just a pill that will cover it up.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
And that question is outside of science. So Eric, I really believe that your community that you’re reaching and that crisis has been cultivating is the new Book of Acts. I do believe that we have to go underground, sort of, and begin to talk to friends who we trust. So who do you go to? Is there somebody? And once again, the spirit blows where it wills. It’s not what you think it should be. An urgent care center for health? No, of course it is because you now have a relationship, Eric. Health is relational. And that’s why the title of our book Two Patients…
Before My Encounter with the Mother of God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church, again, coming back to the church, I only cared for one patient and that was the mother or the woman, and she determined if she was a mother or not by whether she admitted it or not. Abortion was on demand because that’s what it was, that’s what it is. And I would provide that service like a vending machine. So all I cared about was the woman sitting in front of me. Two patients is the mom and the fetus and the intimate connection, as you know. And that was, in fact, I’m fascinated by this. I was treating that one cell layer interface between placenta and your wife, called Nitabuch’s Layer. And we were using blood thinners, we were using aspirin, we were using other herbs, vitamins to support blood flow, preventing inflammation. If I remember correctly, theology of the body-
Yes, I think that sounds familiar to me.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I got to be honest with you, I’m totally blank half the time because I deal with intimacy and sin and life and tough stuff. So I forget everything. So I’m grateful for your patience with me. But that Nitabuch’s layer, that intimacy, is where human flourishing, Carter Snead from Notre Dame’s Culture and Ethics, de Nicola Center, does a beautiful job of talking about the mother and child intimacy. Intimacy. The heart in Hebrew is heart, gut, and womb. It’s your deepest truth. It’s your deepest justice. And I’m convinced that we have totally lost and misplaced that ability.
And so it’s really about two patients, seeing them as two distinct members of our human family. Because as Dr. Lejeune taught me, “Johnny, in the beginning is the code. And the code is life, and the code is in life.” The genetic code. That’s what makes us human. It’s like 23andMe, you do it in your family, it tells you all about the future. On those one cell embryos that we all were, that is when conception, fertilization occurs. You can do 23andMe on that if you could find it. And you could predict a lot of things about that child now. And we’re learning more and more and more each day. And if you bastardize that, you’re now trans-human post-human. Right? We’re now using AI to manipulate everything. And so we’re in a brave new world or a brave old world, or a sinful, sad, original, the world after sin. And so, yeah, I think we’re there.
Okay. So based on your own experience. So you got into medicine a long time ago. At the time you thought things like abortion, that’s what’s best for women, you thought this was caring, things like that. How do we get young people who are potentially interested in medicine, how do we get them to avoid a lot of the evil and a lot of the bad thinking that dominates the medical profession now?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Right. So we stand on the shoulders of men and women who went before us, Eric, you and your work, me and my work, and they laid the groundwork. So this new generation, like the generation of John, Paul, they want more. They want holiness alongside wholeness, alongside health. They see the value of science and the value of reason. They see the value of hospital births and the value of home births. They believe in sacrifice. Or, “If I lose myself, I find myself.” Right? So that’s where the young folks are.
Divine Mercy Care, what I was moved over to after my illness at Tepeyac, we one talk about alms-giving on one side of the coin of how to run a practice. But on the practical side, we’re targeting exactly what you have your finger on the pulse of. We have met now with medical students at most of our regional medical centers.
Now, remember, I worked with Students For Life 12, 10 and 13 years ago. We went to 60 medical schools. We lectured and we cultivated, alongside CMA, alongside CMDA alongside ACOG. Now, we can’t get on the school campuses anymore because we’re marginalized. So what’s happening is, a pro-life leader in the student division, resident division, calls and says, “Hey, can you come visit us? I can get 10 guys, 10 gals over a cup of coffee. Sure, let’s do this.”
And you meet one-on-one. And what I’m hearing is right now, “John, we’ve all been called, they’re pushing us out. They’re actually forcing us out. They’re threatening us that we’re not going to pass our exams. They’re threatening us that we need to change our major, our practice.” Well, you start with, “If you were called into this by God, do you think that? Yes. Then it’s called disobedience if you back out.” So we’re looking at a new Douay-Rheims revolution.
The country of England is gone. How do you teach the next generation? Well, you do it just like they’ve done forever. All the way back to the Book of Acts. We’ve got the Holy Spirit. He will not let us down. We now have divine mercy, which is about, I think, “Jesus, I trust in you.” We’ve had the Easter Sunday about we’re new wineskins because he died and rose. We stand on that or else I’m an idiot. Well, all of a sudden we have the cloud of witnesses, Joe Muscovy, Jerome Lejeune, the list goes on. Cosmas and Damian, Gianna Molla. We have the greats, we have Albert Schweitzer, we have Tom Dooley. We have great men and women who have gone before us and given everything over.
It’s about time we go after that and we share that, encourage them, and then give them the data they need to argue on the day-to-day basis. But remember, it’s like stump the chump. You can battle back between you have to learn to witness it and be so humble and loving in the face of criticism that that’s what we teach now. We’ve done it in Texas, we’ve done it in Nebraska, we’re doing it in more and more places, like so many others. And that’s how I think you really inspire the next generation.
Yeah. It sounds like in some of your work is going underground in the sense that you’re having to meet with these fine young men and women over coffee, may not officially through all the official channels. Are there schools though out there, medical schools, that are bucking the trend and trying to have a more holistic view of health, a more open to faith view of health? Are there some schools out there now?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
There are. They’re spread out. Remember, Dobbs just happened. And the question of abortion has come back to the States. So whether you’re red or blue, our tagline at Divine Mercy Care was, “Transforming Hearts Through Healthcare.” And there’s a parenthesis about one at a time. So there was a status quo before Dobbs that we used to shepherd men and women through the system. Well, it’s changed some because depending on where you’re at, the voices are changing and it’s almost like an active shoot. It’s very fluid.
And so yes, there are many, there’s a lot of good people out there in the Christian Catholic medical world, the Healthcare Leadership Alliance, trying to help start a Catholic medical school. There’s a lot of good medical schools out there that don’t want to be totally woke, but it kind of depends on how loud and vociferous the voices of choices are, the voices of abortion. And they’re tying people up in legislation right now. The American Association of Pro Life OB/GYN was kicked out of the CREOG meeting, which is where the ACOG, the American College of OB/GYN, talks about credentialing for resident research and study. It’s kind of like the board that oversees how do you train residents. And so it’s a very interesting time.
But no, we help people practically navigate the system. It’s not academics all, it’s literally prayer of the heart. But it’s also the practical aspect of, this is how you navigate medical school, this is how you navigate residency, and these are the practices out there where you can get jobs and you can find collegiality, and you can actually find cynical, if you know what I mean?
Yeah. Another aspect that’s very challenging with dealing with the medical industrial complex, basically, is the financial aspects of it with insurance and just that whole mess. Now, I know one of the things that might not be as well known about your practice is the fact that you have a very large outreach to poor, the poor, poor women, helping them get proper medical care. How do you do that in an environment that seems to be 100% based upon the health insurance industry, big pharma and things like that. How can a medical practice help the poor and really give them the proper medical care they need when they’re typically outside the system, so to speak?
Dr. John Bruchalski:
So you do it with fear and trembling, Eric. And like those little ladies at Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City. You do it on your knees a lot. And in Krakow, Poland, you do it arms outstretched, face down on the pavement. And sometimes you have to stand up like Miguel Pro and face it. But what I’m trying to say to you is I never looked at it as people are outside the system and we have to serve those patients. I’ve always seen it as, those patients are here to teach me the mercy of God. That those patients…
When I was in Appalachia back in my progressive days, I went there to improve health because I knew a lot. I took some time, I went there. And because I listened, they loved me. And the lady asked, “So Johnny, are you going to stay with us? No, I got to go back in about two months. Well, then you’re just like all the rest, you’re checking off a box in your head because it makes you feel better. If you loved us…” And Mother Teresa said the same thing, “Johnny, bring Calcutta to Fairfax.” That was the 10th chapter of that book, Two Patients.
But what I’m trying to say here is, they’re there for us. Now, I do believe in the Good Samaritan. I do believe in the washing of the feet. I believe servant leadership is crucial. And the mother said, on the hill, “Johnny, if you want to help my son renew the face of the earth and you’re a good Jesuit son of mine, so you want to set the world on fire, but not you, but the spirit in you, practice excellent medicine. See the underserved alongside the served. Follow the teachings of my son’s church in scripture and tradition. And by the way, once you finish with us,” the immaculate and sacred hearts, she was referring to, “Go show yourself to a priest.” Confession.
Medicine is sacramental dog. Your wife was a temple of the Holy Spirit to me, you were a little harder to get that. No, I’m just joking. You are too. However, everything about the world is pushing you against it. “Don’t bring your faith into the… Hang your damn faith. Don’t go into the public square, keep it private. Hey, don’t do that.” Well, the whole thing is, “Go and teach and baptize, spread it, invite others.” It’s all about living your faith.
And so for the financial point of it, we went nonprofit about 15 years ago because every bean counter said, “Stop seeing the poor. They’re breaking you.” Well, we’ve always had 30 to 40% of our patients are underserved. Why? Because we partner with pregnancy centers. You basically say, as Mother said, “If you can’t handle them, send them to us. We’ll figure out a way to do it.”
It’s not like we have oodles of money. We don’t. And we can’t take everybody, but we take them until it hurts. It hurts the bank account, it hurts us. But God is never outdone in generosity. And then we use alms. Remember, medicine is an act of mercy. That’s now what I talk about all the time. Medicine is relational, sacrificially, gratuitously so. You basically hate the disease, but love the patient. That makes medicine an act of mercy. Either caring for the least or helping alms helping visit the sick. And you involve the community in the local Catholic center. That’s the way hospitals were done from the time of Denis at the Hotel Dieu in the northern section of Notre Dame Cathedral. That darn hospital’s been there since 400 AD.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
This is the genius but the paradox of being in the public square with one foot there and one foot in heaven, in the city of God versus the city of man. And I fully believe that alms-giving is a way. You don’t have to go to Haiti to always go on mission. There are people in your own backyard living much less lives than you. And that makes it happen every day. And it’s not that I don’t love the free clinics. I do. I worked in one, I worked in several, but there was no friction there. The friction was, these are the underserved, they have no resources, and it’s hard to find them. Well, I want to do it so it makes me uncomfortable. So I’m always aware that the Lord comes and disguises either very wealthy or very poor, both and. And that interaction is to help me trust in Jesus.
So that idea of, “Jesus, I trust in you,” turns community into communion where you really make abortion unwantable, children welcomed, and families stronger. And we can only do it with that balanced approach of the whole person. And that’s why the beauty of bringing together the science and the alternative, big pharma and big alternative, both taken to their worst extremes, you pay money, is this really helpful? Whether it’s all the supplements versus all the crazy medicines. And yet let’s say, dude, it’s free. Pick and choose one side or both, or a little bit of each, but listen to where the patient is coming from. And that determines so much in that encounter.
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting that you guys ended up in Fairfax, Virginia, because you can serve both the very wealthy and all the way to the very poor in Fairfax, Virginia. Because having lived, we live in Maryland, but I know the area and-
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Same area. Right.
You got the whole gamut there outside of D.C. Now, okay, we’re going to wrap it up here pretty soon. And I feel like I didn’t do my job of promoting the book, but I do think people should get it. It’s a very good book, Two Patients. And I want you to just briefly, or as long as you want, actually, just talk about why you wrote the book and why you think it might help people to read to read the book.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Oh, sure. So Eric, what I do love is that you tease the book, and teasing the book is much better for me than talking about it in the sense of reliving it. So I am grateful for your expertise and you did it effortless. I mean, just talking to you again, buddy. It’s like being with family.
I remember, just to interrupt you, I still remember the day of my daughter’s birth. We’re sitting in the hospital room all day, it’s taking a while. And I was in there, I remember you’d walk in every once in a while, I was praying the Breviary, and you’d just jump in and we’d just start chatting about this or that, about the faith. Then you check out my wife, make sure everything’s okay, then come back and then come back later. And it was just this beautiful relationship like you’ve been talking about, that I felt like, “Okay, this is a family member coming in just to see how we’re doing, when it’s actually our doctor coming in.” So Sorry, I just thought of that and I wanted to-
Dr. John Bruchalski:
No, no. And that’s when stuff happens and it goes from, “Oh, this is a natural process,” to, “Oh my God, there’s hemorrhage. She’s dying.” There’s trust. And I trust you, you trust me. And that’s what medicine is all about. It’s more than reproductive healthcare. We don’t pit mom against baby. We don’t do those other things.
So I wrote the book because there’s a real problem at the core of medicine. It’s exactly what you talked about, distrust one way or the highway. That’s not even science. That’s not even the scientific method. It’s never settled because you’re constantly learning, peeling the levels of the onion, and you definitely don’t punish another person, meaning that’s left for the totalitarians, and they may be with us already.
So this book is about hope. So when I say that it was my mother and father’s intercessory prayer and all the pro-life community out there that were praying for the conversion of abortion doctors, I can’t throw stones. “Father, forgive us because we knew not what we’d do.” You can’t. And so it’s hopeful, it’s prayerful. As long as mom and dads keep praying for their kids, whether they’re falling away. I remember telling my parents in the book, “I do abortions, get over it.” Watching my mother’s eyes… Anyway, God’s mercy healed all that because my parents were faithful to the end.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
And when I came back, made them incredibly ecstatic, trusting, humbled. It was their prayer. So the book was written to talk to people who have been on the other side, people who are not sure about their church’s teaching, not sure about whether faith is real, but also hopeful about the scientific data. Because as I was converting, the data was coming in on abortion and contraception, “Oh, blood clots, oh, breast cancer, preterm birth, mental illness.” And so it’s some of that.
But I left it when I just began and started my medical practice because I wanted to tell the story and witness to people that change and let them talk about, “Why are you Catholic?” That sort of thing. And it’s hopeful. And it was perfect timing because I didn’t know about Dobbs. And it came to November of that year, of last year. So yeah, that’s all.
So I started this whole discussion with a personal story. I’m going to end it with one as well because I don’t like telling this story too much, but I’m going to. So we had the four children and we had the three miscarriages and we felt like this is probably it. We’re probably never going to have a baby again.
And then 4th of July, I remember 4th of July 2008, we were downtown D.C., waiting for the fireworks. There was some rain. And so we were picnicking and I remember it started raining, so we put a tarp over us and we were just sitting there waiting. And I was just sitting there, praying and stuff. And now, people who know me know I do not have visions. I am not a person who… I mean, when I pray, I don’t hear anything. It’s very dry, very boring. But yet at this moment, I had what I consider my one and only vision of my life.
And it was I was sitting there and I had this image, and I don’t know how I knew this, but I was standing there holding a baby that I knew was my own. And it was a year from then, 4th of July of the next year. I knew that was in my vision, I knew I’m holding my baby, 4th of July 2009. And it was very strong.
And so it was a couple months later, it was actually I think August, so about a month or so later that we saw you., You told us different things. And sure enough, through God’s grace, my wife became pregnant. But we were very worried that it would not work out. And you had us on the medicine. But then she went to the sonogram at one point, I think we were about 12 weeks, something like that. And it was a Friday and we couldn’t find a heartbeat.
And they said, “Come back on Monday.” My wife was just considered, “Okay, here we go again.” And she wasn’t going to continue to do the shot and the medicine that you had given her, the daily stuff that weekend. I said, “Honey, just do it.” Because I knew I had this vision, but I had not told my wife because I didn’t want to get her hopes up ’cause I don’t know what visions are. I don’t know. I mean, this could’ve just been bad tacos that day or something.
So I said, “Go ahead and take the medicine.” So she does. And sure enough, we go back Monday and the heartbeat is back. And it was just a random fluctuation, whatever. And sure enough, then we have the baby. And we have the baby on June 29th, 2009. So five days, six days later, July 4th, 2009, I’m holding my baby, just like my vision said.
And you of course were the instrument, the primary instrument God used to make that happen. So it just was, like I said, I don’t have these visions, I don’t have things. But for whatever reason, that’s why, of course we named her Hope. When my wife said, “I would like to name her Hope,” I was like, “That’s perfect,” because God gave us hope again. And the fact that you said this about your book being about hope, giving people hope, I’m like, “Yep, amen.”
So I don’t think I’ve ever recommended a book more highly than this one, simply for personal reasons, because I have three beautiful daughters I would not have had because of God working through you. So thank you very much. And like I said, this wasn’t like most of my interviews, but I don’t care. I think this is great.
So I will link the people though to the book, obviously, to Divine Mercy Care, to Tepeyac Center, all the work you’re doing, and just encourage people to check it out. And like you said, if there’s Catholics out there, or non-Catholics, who struggle with their interactions with the medical world, reach out to you guys.
Dr. John Bruchalski:
Yeah. So that’s great. Okay, well, Dr. Bruchalski, thank you so much for the interview, but for so much more than that. Until next time, everybody, God love you.