As he traveled through Africa in 1954, what Monsignor Anthony Brouwers saw surprised him.
Local priests and bishops were busy with construction, laying concrete and fixing car engines. Religious brothers and sisters, with no medical training, were pulling teeth and delivering babies. Msgr. Brouwers had come to Nigeria to attend the Marian Conference. As the director of the Propagation of the Faith in Los Angeles, he wanted to offer the Archdioceses’ support to local clergy, so he set out across the continent.
He thought they would ask for funds. Instead, they asked for people.
Everywhere he went, the request was the same: send us individuals willing to lend a hand in their professional capacities who can provide medical care and education in the schools and hospitals.
He returned to Los Angeles with a new vision and a heart on fire. Msgr. Brouwers founded Lay Mission-Helpers Association in 1955 and Mission Doctors Association in 1959. As the two oldest lay-sending international mission organizations in the United States, their reputation for sending missionaries who share their skills and live their faith is exceptional. Through these organizations, lay missionaries have served in 36 countries providing more than 2500 cumulative years of service to the Church.
Responding to the growing need to staff clinics and hospitals, Mission Doctors Association began a short-term program in 1997. Doctors can serve for one to three months alongside a long-term MDA physician. To help prepare for the assignment, doctors are invited to attend a Retreat/Seminar held twice yearly.