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FATHER JAMES KELLER, M.M., CHOSE “THE CHRISTOPHERS” AS THE NAME OF OUR ORGANIZATION BECAUSE IT COMES FROM THE GREEK TERM “CHRISTOPHOROS,” WHICH MEANS “CHRIST-BEARERS.” That’s why we’ve always been committed to emphasizing what one person can do, with God’s help, to create a better world through faith and action. While the media often focuses on the dark side of humanity, The Christophers believe that by highlighting individuals who reflect our motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” we can inspire others to bring God’s love, mercy, and truth to those around them. That’s why we’re sharing some stories of modern-day Christophers in this News Note. We hope they inspire you to respond to God’s call in your own unique way.

Answering God’s Call

American doctor Tom Catena is the only physician serving over half a million people in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, where the Sudanese government regularly bombs its own people in an attempt to put down a rebellion.

Foxholes surround Dr. Catena’s Mother of Mercy Hospital so that he, his staff, and patients can take cover from the bombings. In an online video accompanying the New York Times story about him, viewers get to see the hospital, where many patients are civilians, including women and children, whom he treats for severe bombing injuries in an off-the-grid facility with no electricity, running water, or even an x-ray machine.

When Dr. Catena is asked about the John 3:30 wristband he wears, he says, “He is greater than I. So He must increase. I must decrease. ‘He’ being God, of course. It’s a reminder to us that we have to humble ourselves.” Dr. Catena credits his Catholic faith with inspiring him to continue his work, saying, “I’ve been given benefits from the day I was born—a loving family, a great education. So I see it as an obligation, as a Christian and as a human being, to help.”

One Nuban man compares him to Jesus Christ, saying, “Jesus healed the sick, made the blind see and helped the lame walk, and that is what Dr. Tom does every day.”

 

From Suffering to Hope

Sarah Jane Donohue was born a healthy baby on June 5, 2005. Five days later, she was shaken violently by an aide worker and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that destroyed 60 percent of the rear cortex of her brain. Doctors told Sarah Jane’s father, Patrick, that she would never be able to do much of anything, not even walk or talk. But he refused to accept that prognosis.

Recalling the realization he had about the role God was calling him to play in advocating for his daughter, Patrick, said, “She was less than two weeks old, and they were trying to get an IV into her. They’re poking, trying to find the vein. Her mouth was wide open, she had tears coming down her face, but she couldn’t [vocally] cry because of the brain injury. I’ll never forget looking at her and saying, ‘It’s my job to be the voice for her.’”

In doing research to advocate for Sarah Jane, Patrick found that much was lacking in the treatment of children with traumatic brain injuries. For instance, there was no plan of standardized care, so he began an initiative to develop a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care that’s universallyaccessible for millions of American families.

In addition, Patrick saw the need children with TBIs have for an education in an environment uniquely suited for them, so he joined with leading experts in the field of brain injury and rehabilitation to launch the International Academy of Hope, or iHope, the first and only school for kids with brain injuries and brain-based disorders in New York City. iHope brings dedicated and compassionate doctors, therapists, and teachers together with families facing unique challenges to build a community of support and friendship where students can learn and grow at their own pace.

Sharing his vision for the future, Patrick said, “My intention is to replicate this school model that we’ve created here in New York City in other citiesaround the country, around the world…My philosophy is pretty simple: things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.”

 

“Each and every day is given to you by Almighty God to use for His glory, for the service of others, as well as for the benefit of your own immortal soul. What you do with each day rests entirely with you. Remember, it’s your day. Make the most of it. Fill every day with prayers, words and deeds which will enrich the lives of others as well as your own, and you will be blessed for time and eternity.” —Father James Keller, M.M., the founder of The Christophers

 

 

 

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