Friday, July 29, 2016


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 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.