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85th Anniversary of Medical Mission Sisters

Still pioneering at 85, Medical Mission Sisters celebrate our Foundation Day.

On September 30th, over 650 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates around the world will celebrate the 85th anniversary of our Community’s founding. Please join us in thanking God for these wonderful years of pioneering spirit and healing presence.

Our Foundress, Doctor Anna Dengel, served in the early 1920s as the only physician for thousands of women and children in what was then Northern India (now Pakistan), because Muslim customs did not permit women to be seen by male doctors. She knew that the need was much greater than she alone could meet…so she took the unprecedented step of founding our Community of Catholic women doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

In 1925, there was no precedent for Catholic Sisters to be physicians, surgeons, and obstetricians-gynecologists. Instead, there was a Church ban – a Canon Law – against it. It took 11 more years of petitioning Rome and demonstrating, by dedicated service, that “it could be done,” before the Church permitted Catholic Sisters to be engaged in the full range of medical work, especially in mission lands.

During our 85-year history, hundreds of our Sisters have helped millions of people in 43 nations. Our pioneering has included:

–    building and staffing hospitals and health centers
–    starting nursing schools and programs for nurse-midwifery training
–    offering vital health and nutrition education to mothers, so they would have healthy pregnancies and deliveries
–    monitoring closely the health and growth of children under five
–    caring for people suffering with HIV/AIDS
–    working towards justice for the poor and voiceless, at the U.N. and in local areas
–    creating ecologically-friendly work and living environments
–    being present to women who are imprisoned or trafficked

Mother Dengel encouraged us, “to prudently push on, not being rash, but not afraid either to dare something when it appears important in the building of the kingdom.” Following her example, we continue to pioneer new expressions of healing ministry wherever there is great need.

September 15, 2010