By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter
t’s been nearly 20 years since award-winning American Catholic missionary Dr. Tom Catena arrived in Africa. Next month, Catena will complete his second decade of service as he has become one of the continent’s most important people.
Catena, a 55-year-old native of upstate New York, is the only surgeon serving 1.3 million people in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a region hit hard by government bombings against rebel-controlled communities.
The Duke University graduate and former U.S. Navy doctor told The Christian Post in an interview that he originally traveled to Kenya in the early 2000s and only planned to stay for one year.
But one year turned into two, and two turned into three, and before he knew it, he found himself being called in 2008 to help open and run a new hospital in a war-torn region of Sudan in desperate need of help as they faced genocidal violence and starvation.
“Once I came here, I just kind of stuck,” Catena said. “It was difficult and challenging. But even in the worst of times here, there is no place else I’d rather be.“
“Even when things are really bad and the fighting is serious and [we’re] in fear of being killed or have problems with the staff or logistics, I really feel like I want to stay here,” he said.