Dr. Tom Catena, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Chair and 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate is being honored with a top international medical award.
The Florida-based African Mission Healthcare (AMH) announced that Dr. Tom Catena is the recipient of the nonprofit’s 2019 Gerson L’Chaim Prize for “Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service,” sponsored by Jewish philanthropists Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson.
“Perhaps the primary Jewish responsibility is to love the stranger, and to do so meaningfully — in action, where real people materially experience this love,” said Mark Gerson, co-founder of AMH and benefactor of the Gerson L’Chaim Prize. “We are so grateful to Tom for providing us with the opportunity to fulfill this Jewish obligation so effectively.”
Dr. Tom Catena, a 55-year-old Catholic medical missionary from upstate New York, has served in Africa for 20 years. He is the only surgeon for 1.3 million people in a region nearly twice the size of Massachusetts. As a medical missionary, he put his life on the line living in the middle of the war-torn and besieged Nuba Mountains, a territory fiercely contested by its inhabitants and the former government of Sudan.
Dr. Tom Catena, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Chair and 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate, will participate as speaker at the 2019 World Health Summit to take place on October 27-29, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Dr. Catena will join leading healthcare experts and decision-makers from around the globe to discuss ways to advance global health agendas and promote science thought leadership.
AMH has been supporting mission hospitals in Africa since 2010. It launched the L’Chaim (Hebrew for “to life”) Prize in 2016, which comes with a $500,000 award, the world’s largest annual award of its kind dedicated to direct patient care in Africa.
The $500,000 award will go towards the Nuba 2020 campaign to raise $7.5 million to keep the only major hospital in Sudan’s war-torn Nuba Mountains fully operational for the next two decades. Catena is leading the Nuba 2020 campaign.
“The people of the Nuba Mountains are the bravest and most resilient people I know,” said Catena. “I am honored to receive this award that will help enormously with our plans to strengthen and expand the Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital and our network of clinics in this largely forgotten region of the world.”
“It’s an incredible honor for AMH to recognize Dr. Catena’s unparalleled commitment,” said Rabbi Erica Gerson, an AMH board member and prize co-sponsor, who will present the award with her philanthropist husband Mark Gerson. “For more than a decade, Tom has endured bombings, epidemics, rainy seasons and flooding, loss of power, lack of equipment and staff, and very little connection with the outside world, all because of his dedication to the Nuba people. He exemplifies what it means to ‘walk in all God’s ways and to love Him,’ and we are honored to be his partner in his sacred work.”
The prestigious Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson L’Chaim prize will be presented to Catena April 14 at an awards dinner in New York City.