Thursday, August 4, 2016

I love my job!

Before breakfast today I was on Facebook messenger with Dr. Martha Coda in Cameroon.

With my coffee I went back and forth on messenger with Molly Druffner, in Tanzania with her husband Dr. Mark Druffner and their family.

Even before I got on the freeway I had emails back and forth from Dr. Marc Tunzi and Dr. Danielle Acton in Ecuador, and Drs. Paul and Terese Bauer who are in Tanzania with their five children. 





The lifesaving work of these doctors and the faith of their families making these long and often difficult journeys continues to inspire me.  Though August marks 35 years of working for Mission Doctors for me, I am always grateful to be witness to their service and provide whatever support I can – even if it is long distance.

I love my job!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Re-entry

Back at the Mission House, where they took part in the four month formation program in 2013, Mission Doctor and Lay Mission-Helper families have come together this week to connect, to share, and to pray.  These returned missionaries have served in Africa and Latin America and this re-entry workshop provides the opportunity to reflect on their time in service in light of returning to the United States, and a space to share the joys and challenges of their time in mission.
 
 

This has been a time of laughter, and shared tears; of story telling, and meeting 4 babies born since 2013!  During the workshop, at Mass, and over meals, we find the commonality and unique aspect of each journey. 

Tom and I returned from Thailand in 1981 with three young children and I see much of our experience in what has been shared. How we are changed by the experience, how we return and live and make an effort to hold on to the best of our time, striving to live each day with deep gratitude.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

World Hepatitis Day


There are many medical problems which present dramatically.  Think of broken legs, of the various types of infections, etc.   Often, the tests and x-rays done just confirm what both patient and physician already knew.  Other diseases can affect a person quietly and progressively, such as occurs in certain forms of chronic hepatitis.  This can potentially lead to problems including liver failure and liver cancer.  We are fortunate in our country to have the availability of ways to diagnosis and follow chronic hepatitis.  Many of the tests are part of routine healthcare and help to diagnose hepatitis at an early stage when treatments can be most beneficial.  In resource-limited countries, such diseases can progress insidiously to a serious and advanced stage in the absence of any way to diagnose them. 

Today is World Hepatitis Day.    We are blessed in our country with a long list of ways to keep hepatitis from harming us.  There are vaccines to prevent some types, knowledge of how the various types of hepatitis are spread and how to avoid contracting it, as well as a growing number of medical and surgical treatments for those who develop hepatitis and it's complications.

So what do physicians in mission lands do about hepatitis?  What do you do to deal with a disease you can not diagnose early?  How do you prevent hepatitis when vaccines are not available?   How do you treat people with hepatitis when specific medical treatments and surgery are not available?  You take the time and effort to educate your patients well about how hepatitis is spread and ways to avoid contracting it.  The best, and often the only, way to not be harmed by hepatitis in resource-limited countries is to not contract it.


The World Health Organization has established concrete goals for reduction in the transmission of and death from hepatitis in coming years.  Until hepatitis takes its place in the museum of diseases which once afflicted humanity, prevention remains the best and often the only medicine.

oday's guest blog post is contributed by Dr. Tim Cavanagh. Dr. Cavanagh is a veteran Mission Doctor.  Tim and his wife Sheila served for three years in rural Zimbabwe and continue to serve on short-term missions in Africa and Latin America.  Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peace


“Peace firstly means there are no wars … but it also means that there is friendship between all that every day a step ahead is made for justice, so that there are no more children who are hungry, that there are no more sick children who do not have the possibility of receiving healthcare. Doing all of this means making peace. Peace involves work, it is not about staying calm and doing nothing. No! True peace means working so that everyone has a solution to the problems, to the needs, that they have in their land, in their homeland, in their family, in their society.”
Pope Francis
Audience with children of the Peace Factory
May 12, 2015



There are times that the news – both things happening around the world and things closer to home can make me want to pull the covers over my head and hide. 
 
But Pope Francis said this so well --- Peace involves work!  We must all find the work we are called to do to bring peace, hope, and solutions to problems we know need to be addressed.
 
The Mission Doctors caring for the child in rural Cameroon or along the Napo River in the Amazon Region of Peru know this – it is work, hard work.  But for the child and their family receiving healthcare it can be life changing. 

Together we work to bring these solutions to these problems.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It is a calling


Being a doctor is a calling.  For Catholic Doctors this calling is also a reflection of their faith.
While the challenges of being a doctor are known to many, they include; many years of education; often followed by large debt;  followed by long hours in a residency program; and then seeking a way to utilize their education and gifts.  The greatest challenges usually come when all that they can do is still not enough. 
For some on the outside it may seem like a great way to make a living – but for most doctors it is much more about helping people live, and live their lives to the fullest.
If you have ever listened to a surgeon gleefully recall a challenging case with a good outcome; or an OBGYN whose smiling face says that she has delivered yet another new life into the world; or an Emergency Room doctor at the end of his evening, both exhausted and exhilarated; or seen the pediatrician who seems to glow in the presence of the newborn, and who still wakes in the middle of the night because a parent is meeting her at the hospital, or the dentist who volunteers his time every chance he gets… then you have met a doctor who is called.
Mission Doctors Association believes it is important to recognize a Catholic Doctor whose faith informs their professional life.  For some it has been activities in their own community, for others it has been through their international mission work. 
2015 Catholic Doctors of the Year, Fr. Jack McCarthy, MD and Fr. Maurice Schroeder, MD
We invite everyone across the United States to consider the Catholic Doctor they know and nominate them for the 2016 National Catholic Doctor of the Year.   Help us recognize the unique qualities that are witnessed when a Catholic doctor not only applies their education and gifts, but does so in light of their Catholic faith.
Applications are being accepted now.  You will find the form on our web site.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pentecost

For many people Pentecost is one of those ecclesial celebrations which seems odd. Okay, we know from the Acts of the Apostles that Pentecost reminds us of the Church’s beginnings with a small group, praying and in fear of Jewish officials. Yes, we also have heard Pentecost referred to as the ‘birthday of the Church’. But are either of these worth celebrating: a group cringing in fear or  a birthday?

While Pentecost can be seen as the beginning of the Church (thus, a ‘birthday’) its real importance is deeper and very relevant for us today. It points to uncertainty and fear by early followers of Jesus with an unexpected result. This gathering did not produce a strategic plan for evangelizing the Jews nor a policy statement on the importance of Christianity. In fact, what is memorable about Pentecost is not the result of any human action at all- except prayer and open hearts. During this time of fear and uncertainty, the Holy Spirit appears, giving courage to this motley crew of people from a variety of nations. It is the Holy Spirit who created something new- the Church in order to continue the mission of Jesus. 

The Pentecost story also draws from rich Old Testament imagery. The Spirit hovering over this confusion creating something new (in Genesis Chapter One we hear of wind [an image of Spirit] blowing over chaos to create). This creation is not an abstraction, a ‘creation of Church’, but a uniting of believers of different races. And, through the action of the Holy Spirit, different languages are no long a barrier to communication between peoples (a lovely parallel to the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel).


Pentecost then reminds us of the ongoing, active presence of God among us even at times of fear and confusion. We have a God who can surprise us at times of God’s choice. Furthermore, that through the Holy Spirit we can discover in others, regardless of race, language or age, brothers and sisters Christ. While we must work for God’s glory and love of others, it is God who  can remove seemingly immoveable barriers (think of the Resurrection accounts where a stone was moved to reveal an empty tomb) or convert the heart of the deadliest foe (remember the conversion of Saul!). Now that is something to celebrate!

Mission Doctors Association makes us aware of our brothers and sisters in Christ who need medical care. Through this fine organization we can assist its mission financially as well as in prayer. Please let us do so to help make the Spirit present to others.

Today's guest blog post is contributed by Brother John Kiesler, OFM is a member of the facility of the Franciscan School of Theology in California. Brother John is a member of the Formation Facility for long-term missionaries through Mission Doctors and presents at the Annual Retreat Seminar on the theology of mission. Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Even the Apostles didn’t get it

(And this is what puzzled them) "A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” (From John 16:16) The Apostles clearly did not know what Jesus meant. Even when the Ascension happened, “As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. And in Acts 1: 1…we read that the Apostles were “looking intently at the sky as he was going up” suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” After all Jesus had invited them to go about as he did to be “witnesses to the world.”



Or another time when Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (John 14:6…). At this Jesus must have been exasperated with these men: “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me/” These references are just a few examples of Jesus trying to teach his Apostles.

Well, if even the Apostles, who had the benefit of Jesus’ physical presence and instruction, did not believe or understand his words, how can we? Or how do we fare in our own journey of faith? Well, it is really the coming of the Holy Spirit that will make all the difference.

The mysteries of our faith are illumined by the bright light that is Christ. We ought not to be hard on the Apostles. We have the benefit of Jesus divine life within us in the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who speaks out on our behalf. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven provides the glow of joy and wonder across our human endeavors. (Excerpt from C. Stuhlmueller) So as we contemplate the Ascension, let us boldly undertake the mission of being Christ’s witnesses to his promises “Behold, I am with you until the end of the world.”

Sister Christine Bowman, O.S.F.
Is a Franciscan Sister of the Sacred Heart since 1969: I’m a former nurse with a missionary heart. I responded to an invitation to join the Board of Directors of the Mission Doctors Association in 2013. Currently minister at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown LA. As Director of Cathedral Relations.