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Volunteer Dr. Tom Catena Named a Catholic Digest Hero
Dr. Tom Catena’s recognition of the needs of those for whom healthcare is not a given led him to give up the promise of a successful, large private practice. Instead, he chose to devote most of his adult life to volunteering. In 1998, he first served as a medical volunteer with Catholic Medical Mission Board. Today, he is still serving those in need in some of the world’s most poverty-stricken areas.
Dr. Tom Catena grew up in Amsterdam, New York, and attended Brown University where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating, Tom decided that he wanted a medical career that would afford him the opportunity to work in the mission field. He was motivated to “serve God in a concrete way and to apply the Gospel teachings to the daily work.”
Tom attended Duke University School of Medicine on the GI Bill and graduated in 1992. In 1998 he went to Guyana for a month, and then to Honduras on another month-long medical mission trip. In 1999, Tom completed his residency and decided to be a long-term volunteer. He wanted to focus his work in Africa and set off as a CMMB volunteer to rural Kenya, where he volunteered at Mutoma Hospital for two years.
When his term of service was up, instead of returning to the U.S., Tom decided to extend his mission trip and moved to Nairobi to volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital, where he stayed for six years. In 2007, Tom’s dedication in providing medical care to people in Africa continued when he moved to Southern Sudan to volunteer at the Mother of Mercy Hospital, a facility he helped establish with Most Rev. Macram Gassis, Bishop of El Obeid Diocese. Tom prefers to work in a Catholic mission hospital because he believes this helps “provide the spiritual foundation which gives the work its meaning.”
Because of Tom’s legacy of compassionate care, selflessness and personal sacrifice, Catholic Digest chose to honor him as Catholic Digest Hero. Catholic Digest is an American Roman Catholic monthly magazine. It was founded in 1936, and has a current circulation of 300,000.