Very Rev. Fr. Jeremiah Loch’s two parallel careers began with yet a third—a paper route.
As a young boy delivering newspapers inside Saint Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in his hometown of Pontiac, Michigan, he was often mesmerized by the sight of doctors in pristine lab coats and fully-robed Catholic priests who dominated the hallways on the way to looking after patients’ physical and spiritual needs. Despite his Lutheran upbringing, he soon found himself sneaking into the hospital chapel to attend Mass. Perhaps the mystical nature of those early impressions was the spark that first ignited his desire for a career dedicated to relieving pain and suffering.
Eventually, he was to embark on that career by way of a unique path that was the confluence of two other paths, medicine and spirituality.
As a teen, young Jeremiah was further inspired by the influence of his family’s longtime physician, so medical studies came first. In 1970 he completed training and earned certification to practice anesthesiology, later specializing in pain medicine. This career pathway has now spanned some fifty years.
A decade or so into his practice, Jeremiah’s budding fascination with spirituality was rekindled through coursework in Pastoral Counseling. During this same time, he was invited to study pain medicine at Emory University in Atlanta with the eminent physician, teacher, and author, Dr. Steven Brena. This seminal experience was as much an indoctrination into spirituality as a course in medicine, for Dr. Brena’s approach encompassed a highly integrated connection between the two fields, as expressed in two of his books, Pain and Religion and Yoga and Medicine.
After training with Dr. Brena, Jeremiah went on to graduate work and a PhD in religion and health sciences. These studies engendered a deep interest in the primordial roots of religion and in his subsequent discovery of the Eastern Church, which was born from the church’s split into East and West during the Great Schism of 1054. Drawn to the history of the Eastern Church and its flow through Judaism to Christianity—and attracted by its monastic tradition and the beauty of the chanting—Jeremiah enrolled in a formal course of studies in Orthodox theology. In 1994 he was ordained a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church within the Russian jurisdiction. Several years later, known by then as Fr. Jeremiah, he was awarded the title of Archpriest.
In 2006 Fr. Jeremiah earned a Diploma in Osteopathy through the Osteopathic College of Ontario This direction was the culmination of important influences that had shaped his approach to his work and ultimately his life: the youthful admiration for his family physician (actually an osteopath); the intensive training with Dr. Steven Brena; his continued study of the philosophy and body of work of other well-known pioneers of osteopathy; and his growing dedication to God and Jesus Christ as an Eastern Orthodox priest. At this point the two parallel paths converged and became one.
Very Rev. Fr. Jeremiah Loch and his wife, Kay (formerly a fashion model and, later, a hospice chaplain), reside in a rural area of Illinois just outside of Chicago.