Apostle Visits Wisconsin, Addresses Medical School, Meets College President
By Whitney Evans, Church News staff writer
While on assignment in the Midwestern United States, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at a devotional for students and staff at the Medical College of Wisconsin, visited with the college’s president, and met with the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
President John Heller of the Milwaukee Wisconsin North Stake said Elder Nelson was kind enough to respond to an invitation from the Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) leadership at the Medical College of Wisconsin to speak about the balance between medical expertise, Church, and family responsibilities. Elder Nelson, assigned to a stake conference in Dayton, Ohio, added the visit to Milwaukee on November 16 to speak with medical and graduate students, their families, friends of other faiths, dental students from Marquette University, and young single adults in the Milwaukee North and Milwaukee South stakes.
“That devotional was to me a high point of Elder Nelson’s visit to our area,” said Elder Jack D. Ward, an Area Seventy, who also accompanied Elder Nelson.
He said Elder Nelson emphasized the importance of prioritizing, especially with family responsibilities, and lauded the medical profession as an opportunity and responsibility to serve others. Elder Nelson also emphasized the role of motherhood and the role of fatherhood, regardless of where one is serving in the medical community. Most questions from the audience centered on how to be a better parent and spouse.
“The thing that came to my mind is, ‘There’s no rebuttal to the truth. The truth is the truth,’” Elder Ward said. “There was a strong feeling of what was true with regard to the family and the honor of being in the medical profession and the service it can provide.”
There were about 200 people at the devotional, which was held at the college.
Elder Nelson’s visit also served to give the medical students a “great lift under their wings,” said President Heller, as they work toward keeping their faith strong while developing professionally.
“The devotional went better than I could have imagined it,” said Cole Helm, secretary of the Milwaukee LDSSA and student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who introduced Elder Nelson.
The musical numbers, donated floral arrangements, and the spirit of the attendees all contributed to the memorable evening. Elder Nelson seemed to be reminiscing about his own time in the medical profession, and was able to connect with the students, Brother Helm noted. “It was nothing short of a miracle that he could come and that he did come,” he said.
One benefit of Elder Nelson’s visit was helping to improve the visibility of the Church among those of other faiths, said President Heller.
Because of the significant Catholic presence in the community, a meeting was arranged with the Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Elder Nelson, Elder Ward, and President Heller visited the Archbishop for about an hour, during which time Elder Nelson introduced President Heller as one of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Milwaukee.
“From the moment the Archbishop greeted us, you could just feel the goodness in that man and his sincere desire to have us feel comfortable. I feel that he was very genuine and very sincere. It was a very uplifting experience,” Elder Ward said.
“I think [Archbishop Listecki] enjoyed the visit very much,” said Jerry Topczewski, the Archbishop’s chief of staff.
The leaders discussed matters of mutual concern, such as freedom of religion, sanctity of life, the importance of family, and marriage between a man and woman. Elder Nelson also emphasized the necessity of strengthening youth, and gave a copy of the “For the Strength of Youth” booklet to Archbishop Listecki. They looked through the book together and discussed some of the sections.
“On these issues, the Catholic Church is a natural ally. It was just marvelous,” Elder Ward said of the meeting.
During the course of the meeting, Elder Nelson and the Archbishop developed a closeness, Elder Ward said. “As we concluded the interview and were walking down the hall, I was walking behind the Archbishop and Elder Nelson and they were walking arm in arm,” he said.
Mr. Topczewski said he appreciated Elder Nelson’s graciousness.
The strong presence of Latter-day Saints in the medical community—approximately 10 percent in each class of 200 students at the Medical College of Wisconsin are LDS—prompted a visit with John R. Raymond Sr., president of the Medical College of Wisconsin. The interview was one of mutual expressions of gratitude.
Elder Nelson expressed his appreciation for the medical school’s acceptance of LDS students. President Raymond said the college was grateful to have so many LDS students attending the college. Elder Ward described President Raymond as a “perfect gentleman” and “very sincere.” He said President Raymond welcomed the relationship with Latter-day Saints.