Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Special Day

I recently had a phone call from Mother Antonia who reminded me that December 8th is a special day, not only because it is celebrated as a holy day of obligation, commemorating the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Mother Antonia told me that it is also the anniversary of the ordination of our mutual founder, Msgr. Anthony Brouwers.

Mother Antonia shared that every year she has seen special miracles on and around this date that affirm for her Msgr. Brouwers’ place among the saints. One such miracle spared one of her own sisters an amputation due to medical complications.

We too remember our founder in a special way on December 8th. Msgr. Brouwers dedicated this movement of lay people to the missions to this feast of the Immaculate Conception which we celebrate. Let us work to continue his legacy of international service for Catholic laity through our prayers and all our efforts.

If you have had the opportunity to be blessed, as Mother Antonia has been, in seeing or experiencing special miracles on or around December 8th – perhaps invoking the prayers of Msgr. Brouwers, please write up a brief description and send it in…
Perhaps one day they may be a first step in acknowledging the sanctity of our founder.

Of course we know many holy people who have lived and died are counted among the Saints, as Mother Antonia reminded me. Our parents, family, and friends who make up the heavenly choirs. If we area able to acknowledge Msgr. Brouwers presence among them, it may help more people know of his legacy in the mission work we strive to continue.

If you would like to know more about Mother Antonia and the Religious order she founded – there is a book about her life – “The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia's Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail”, available on Amazon.

If you would like to know more about our founder, Msgr. Anthony Brouwers, LMH and MDA have a book available about his life and work: “For We are God’s Helpers’ - you can obtain a copy of this inspirational book by contacting LMH.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Its that time again.

Time to wait in joyful anticipation.

While we wait, we struggle to wrestle back the meaning of the Holidays from the commercial trappings that encircle us.

Of course, it is wonderful to find gifts that make our family andloved ones smile, feel loved, and know how much we appreciate them each day of the year. Yet all too easily the gift giving can become a task, a reciprocal duty that looses any meaning. It is wonderful to deck the halls, but too easy to get so busy that the days just pass without time for reflection and prayer.

So as we wait this very blessed season of Advent - we light a candle each week on the Advent wreath, the growing light increasing to banish the darkness.

Sometimes for me it can feel like I have one foot in the holy – the true reasons and meaning of this season, and the other foot deeply and busily emerged in the preparations, decorations, baking, shopping, wrapping, and preparing. What I want to try to do this year is not see these as separate things but pull all the seemingly busy work into the holy – prepare with joy; decorate with gladness; bake and shop with the true intention of making my friends and family happy; wrap and prepare with a peaceful heart intent on preparing myself too for Christ to come.
Wishing you joy this Advent.
Let us light the candles together and keep both feet exactly where they should be!


Of course I do have two commercial messages for Mission Doctors
– for those of you who like me shop online – you can just shop as you would, but go through and support Mission Doctors.

And – if you would like to make a gift to Mission Doctors Association in someone’s name this holiday, we have prepared
beautiful full color cards for you to let them know of your kindness.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today, we communicate in ways that our parents could not have imagined. This blog, the internet, cell phones on dirt roads in Cameroon, websites, Facebook, instant messaging, skype – all ways to communicate, to reach out and connect with others.

I think this is basic human nature. We want to tell our story and we want to hear others and learn where our interests, our lives intersect. Shared values draw us together – a belief that all people, everywhere are created by our loving Father, deserving of our love and opportunities to live healthy lives.

For several months we have been working on the
new web site for Mission Doctors Association. I am so excited about the updates and our ability to add information and keep the content current to what is happening today. I was able to add the photo of Dr. Talbot to the slide show on the home page – and he is in Cameroon right now on short-term service with his wife Jane Fehrenbacher Everyone is so excited to have a dentist there that the sisters from other hospitals have been making the trek to see him!

So – as we prepare for the season of thanks I also invite you to watch a video that tells a special story of thanks.

Blessings to you and yours!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

St. Luke – patron of healers…

For many years the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had not had a ‘White Mass’ – a Mass held to honor the work of health care professionals, so named for the white garb most commonly worn by doctors, nurses, and others who are engaged in the healing ministry.

Two years ago when our MDA Board of Directors took on the task of a 5 year strategic plan – this was one of the items that came forward, re-introducing this celebration in the Archdiocese. We wrote to Cardinal Mahony who welcomed the idea and we were partnered with the dynamic woman who (among other titles) is the Director of Health Affairs for the Archdiocese, Sr. Angela Hallahan. Working together last year with a small but dedicated committee this annual event was re-introduced with wonderful success and we immediately looked to ways to grow the celebration for 2010.

On Sunday we will gather again at Holy Family in South Pasadena; ‘Blessing Healers –
Celebrating Health’. The committee has grown, the numbers have increased, and this Sunday promises to be a wonderful opportunity to bring together those who give so much of themselves in service to others. One of the highlights of last year’s Mass was the blessing of hands, a moment when the healers were invited to stand and extend their hands, palm up, to receive a blessing. As moving as it was to witness these humble individuals stand, bow their heads, and raise their hands, I also watched a doctor who had been practicing medicine for more than 40 years brush away a tear.

Let us pray for all who minister to the health of others. May they always see Jesus in their patients, may they feel the breath of the Holy Spirit as they bear the burdens of this ministry and may the know their work is in partnership with our loving Father.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What a trip it was!

It wasn’t a long trip – but it was packed full with an impressive amount of visits, contacts, hugs, tears and laughs. Greeted at the airport by my dear friend Sr. Xaveria we headed out to Padre Pio Clinic for the night, and followed it in the morning with a meeting with Archbishop of Bamenda, Cornellus Esua and the honor of Mass at the Cardinal’s private chapel in Douala celebrated by Archbishop Esua and the Cardinal. On to the 8 hour drive by the ever reliable Bo’Paul – (father of Paul) who has been driving for the hospital for 20 + years! To say that the car was in good hands is a great understatement – also known as Henry this driver’s infectious smile and laughter can only be met with same.

Arriving at Njinikom, Martin de Porres Hospital, after the obligatory stops half way to purchase pineapples and papaya, I was greeted by music, hugs from the many sisters and Jim and Terry Hake who began their three-year assignment this summer and two of our surgeons who were serving short-term, Bill Walsh and Magued Khouzam.

Over the next 10 days I had the opportunity to attend daily Mass with
this wonderful group of faith filled people, to make rounds with our doctors, observe surgeries, witness both tragedies of loss and miracles of recovery. Coming home my heart is filled to near bursting with the faith and friendship, with joy and love and I know that I am so very blessed to have the opportunity to be a witness to this amazing ministry of healing.

We are preparing a new web site for MDA and we decided upon a phrase to put under the title of the organization that I believe does a wonderful job conveying just what this is: Mission of Healing. Partnership of Hope.

Please keep all these wonderful people in your prayers – know that you are in theirs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A special bridge of healing...

I leave this week for Cameroon - of course this starts with spending quite a few hours sitting in airports & airplanes to get to Douala (I think it is 30!) - an overnight at Padre Pio Clinic and the next day a rather long drive to Njinikom in the Northwest - to St. Martin de Porres Hospital.

So, I began taking malaria prophylaxis, packing my bags which will include some medical reference books requested by Jim and some Tupperware requested by Terry Hake, and a bag of Peanut M&M's - the required take along for mission visitation!

I am really looking forward to this trip. I will meet with the Archbishop of Bamenda and the Bishop of Kumbo. I will have the opportunity to visit our overachieving bloggers Jim and Terry who recently began their three-year assignment and Dr. Bill Walsh who will be completing a one month surgical mission. I will also see my old friend, Sr. Xaveria Ntenmusi, hospital matron. Sr. Xaveria and I have been communicating since the 1980's when she was at Shisong Hospital and other mission doctors were serving there.

Without the hard work and dedication of Sr. Xaveria, St. Martin De Porres would not be able to invite our doctors and other doctors from around the world to provide life saving medical care and the necessary training for local staff.

Sr. Xaveria is just one of our partners in Africa and Latin America. It is this partnership, working with the local community to build sustainable health care that makes our organization and the selfless work of our doctors possible.

Partners here that support, and partners there who receive - a special bridge of healing!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Finding Ways to Connect...

There is a new website I just signed up for – and I wanted to invite others to visit and consider being among the first to join.

It is called iCatholic, is part of CatholicTV – a brand new Catholic social networking site, their goal is to provide a place to;

·Connect with fellow Catholics

·Share your Faith and inspire others

·Be an active part of The CatholicTV Network

·Provide ideas and content for the iCatholic digital magazine

I set up a page for Mission Doctors, added a few photos, and videos. Take a look and let me know what you think!

What a wonderful idea, and a fantastic way to help more Catholics know about what others are doing around the world to live their faith!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Living for Others

When preparing to speak at all the Masses at St. Pancratius in Lakewood, I scoured resources and reflections on Sunday’s readings.
I came across a link from St. Louis University, that while I didn’t share it directly, it did impact the way I looked at what I was there to speak about – Mission Doctors and their families are truly ‘people for others’

“…our relation to God is a new life in ‘existence for others,’ through participation in the being of Jesus... the ‘man for others,’ and therefore the crucified, the man who lives out of the transcendent” (D. Bonhoeffer).

The sacrifices made by doctors who leave the comforts of friends, family and a practice in familiar surroundings; availability to necessary medications and knowing that they have additional treatment options… they leave behind these reassuring personal and professional connections, to practice medicine in resource poor settings, because they are called – because they are sent.

Their relationship to God is a new life truly lived in ‘existence for others’.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer with MDA

In Southern California, we think it is really summer when the ‘June gloom’ (which lasted into July) finally lifts!

For us at the MDA office summer also means that we are getting out our
annual Newsletter, making plans for mission visitation to Cameroon in the fall, saying good bye to mission doctors and families headed to begin long and short-term missions, and preparing to speak at several Catholic parishes as part of the Mission Co-op. (Tomorrow alone Dr. and Mrs. Jim Hake leave for Cameroon to serve three years and the Elfrink family are headed to Hillside Clinic in Beliez!)

This year Dr. Phil Hawley, who recently returned from Guatemala, will be speaking at Our Lady of the Pillar Church in Santa Ana, in the Diocese of Orange. Dr. Kate Bolton and Mr. John Ruley, who will spend September in Uganda, will speak later in the summer at Santa Maria and St. Benedict in the Diocese of Oakland. I have already had the opportunity to share the story of MDA with the parishioners at St. Mary Magdalen, I will be at St. John Baptist in Granada Hills this weekend, and then at the end of the month at St. Pancratius in Lakewood.

It such a wonderful opportunity to share with the parishioners information on how lay Catholics are sharing their skills and living their faith around the world, this too is a part of the mission!

Please say a prayer for all of us who will be sharing our missionary work, and for those traveling that they arrive safely – we know they will all receive a warm welcome, from Uganda to Belize, from Cameroon to Guatemala!

Thank you

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit...

I´ve just returned from Guatemala and a visit with Drs. Jennifer Thoene and Brent Burket along with their four children, Christopher, Elizabeth, Julianne, and Nicholas. (pictured here with Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez and Lay Mission-Helper Mitch Tolbert) Just prior to that visit we had Commissioning Mass for Dr. James and Mrs. Terry Hake, leaving this summer to begin a three year assignment in Cameroon.

I had some time to think about this blog, waiting in airports (and in Guatemala City for an airport to re-open) and how I can share with you the joy, dedication, and generosity of spirit all these special individuals share. One a young family, taking their children, away from aunts and uncles and grandparents - the other couple leaving behind adult children and grandchildren.

It isn´t that they are unaware of the sacrifice, or that they don´t miss the opportunity for big family get togethers that this separation means, but that despite this separation they step out, they take the risks necessary to share their skills with individuals in need in Africa and Latin America.

This is a profound example for all of us who comfortably put our heads on our pillow tonight, who can see our families when we chose. Their example of service, so far from home, is one that we may not be able to follow today, but through our own sacrifices we can make their service possible.

Those who support the work of MDA are the essential partners in a healthy delivery in Guatemala, a child treated for malaria in Cameroon, a trauma cared for in Uganda, a village visit in Tanzania. We put our faith and trust in God that we too may be blessed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Seed Sown to Grow in Africa...

"I have come to realize that we all sow seeds everyday. By our actions we sow both good and bad seeds, we then live in the landscape we have created" Dr. Jim Hake shared this reflection on Sunday, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Los Angeles.

Dr. Jim and Mrs. Terry Hake were commissioned, blessed and sent forth this weekend for a three year assignment to Cameroon in West Africa. I wanted to take this blog post and share with you their words of wisdom.

Terry spoke of a faith journey that brought them to this day. She noted that God had sent her three messages that helped her realize that she too was being called to serve as a lay missionary, to teach in the Diocese of Bemenda. Jim shared that he had wanted to be a medical missionary since he first heard a priest from Africa on Mission Sunday 35 years ago while still in medical school.

The seed planted, had been kept buried until 2003 when he and Terry attended the annual Retreat / Seminar offered for doctors who are considering serving short-term. Subsequently, Jim and Terry did serve short-term assignments in both Cameroon and Zimbabwe. Retiring from his Family Practice in Moses Lake, WA, last year, Jim was ready to take the next step, and he and Terry came to Los Angeles in January 2010 and joined the formation program.

Jim completed his reflection by saying, “As we head out we ask for your prayers.”

I would like to ask that you remember Jim, Terry and all of our Mission Doctors serving in Africa and Latin America in your prayers tonight, sowing a seed of mission in your own heart.