Whether you’ve heard of him or not, Tom Catena is somewhat of a celebrity in Amsterdam, New York. He graduated in 1982, is 55 years old, and is currently a physician. If his name sounds familiar, it may be because Catena is in the “Hall of Fame” in Amsterdam High School. This is because of his great contributions to the medical community, being the only doctor permanently based in Sudan’s Nuba mountains. However, his path to getting there was not easy, and he only realized after college that he felt drawn to missionary work.
After graduating high school as the salutatorian of his class, Catena attended Brown University and earned his mechanical engineering degree. Realizing he instead wanted to switch to medical work, Catena decided to go back to college to pursue a medical career. He attended Duke University’s medical school. At this time, he was on a U.S. Navy scholarship. After graduating from Duke, he completed his service as a Navy Doctor. Following his years of schooling and his release from the navy, Catena decided to pursue missionary work in Africa, more specifically in Sudan. Sudan’s Nuba mountains have a population of over half a million people. Catena is currently the medical director at “Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital”, which is the only major hospital in this region. People who work alongside him or just people who have heard of him have even gone so far as to call Catena a hero, since the location in which he works can sometimes be a dangerous environment – and at times, a warzone. However, Catena always insists on staying and is “on call 24/7”. He is dedicated to his work. Catena says “The source of most of our conflicts is the idea that one person’s life is more valuable than someone else’s. We have forgotten that we are all children of God and therefore somewhat related.”
Catena has been recognized by popular news outlets, including The New York Times, Time Magazine and a popular podcast called The Drive. Catena has even received a medical missionary award. He will be presented with the “Gerson L’Chaim Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service” at an awards ceremony in New York City on April 14, 2020.
Dr. Catena certainly is a hero, putting in his time and hard work to help others in need in such an underprivileged area. So, if you have ever heard yourself putting down Amsterdam, just take a look and see the accomplished physician who graduated from our own school.
An interview done on Dr. Catena by CMMB can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM8FnK1H_Jg