Lecture series will feature prestigious speakers at the intersection of theology, medicine, and culture
Monday, October 21, 2019

Duke Divinity School has received a $300,000 gift to endow the Thomas Gerard Catena Lectureship. The lecture series is named in honor of Dr. Tom Catena, an alumnus of the Duke University School of Medicine and the only surgeon serving 750,000 people in Nuba region of Sudan. The Catena Lectureship will be housed within and administered by the Theology, Medicine, and Culture (TMC) initiative of Duke Divinity School, in partnership with the Duke Global Health Institute and the School of Medicine (via the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine).

This prestigious lectureship will invite speakers whose work displays innovative scholarship, service, and institution building at the intersection of theology, medicine, and culture. The lectures will be housed within TMC at Duke Divinity School in order to emphasize the vocational stories of invited speakers and to encourage lecturers to reflect on the moral and spiritual dimensions of their work, including the theological resources for and implications of that work.  

“We are profoundly grateful for the establishment of this lectureship in honor of a truly remarkable, exemplary Christian physician and Duke alumnus,” said Greg Jones, dean of Duke Divinity School and Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology. “This lecture series will highlight gifted scholars and practitioners to inspire future generations and offer insights into the deep interconnections of theology, medicine, and culture. We are excited about the impact this lectureship will have at Duke and beyond.”

The inaugural lecturer will be Dr. Tom Catena, who has been featured in The New York Times and listed as one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” In 2007, he helped found the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, an area where humanitarian aid and travel is heavily restricted. He credits his Roman Catholic faith for sustaining his medical work there.

His lecture, “Gratitude in Action: One Doctor. One Hospital. One Million Patients,” will take place on Tuesday, November 19 at Goodson Chapel at Duke Divinity School. In addition to his public lecture, Dr. Catena will spend time with TMC Fellows, speak with students in Global Health, and share meals with students and faculty in the partnering schools. The endowment for the lectureship includes provision for this extensive interaction between the invited lecturers and students, faculty, and fellows in divinity, medicine, and global health at Duke.   

“The Theology, Medicine, and Culture initiative at Duke Divinity School works to connect the world of Christian faith with the world of health care and to equip health care practitioners and clergy alike to care for those who are sick with clarity, commitment, and joy,” said Dr. Warren Kinghorn, Esther Colliflower Associate Research Professor of Pastoral and Moral Theology, associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, and co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture initiative. “At the divinity school, we are thrilled each year to welcome medical students and others who will go on to be creative and faithful practitioners and leaders. The Catena Lectureship gives us the unparalleled opportunity to introduce these future leaders, and others at Duke University, to world-changing scholars and practitioners at the intersection of faith and care for the sick—beginning with Dr. Catena himself. We are immensely grateful for this opportunity.”