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Dr. Paluel Joseph Flagg

Catholic Medical Mission Board’s inception dates to 1912 and the dream of Dr. Paluel Joseph Flagg, a young anesthesiology resident on the staff of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. Dr. Flagg’s dream of assisting missionaries destined for medical work in foreign lands was spurred by a visit to the Caribbean. Struck by the poverty and illness which victims of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) suffered, he became a spokesperson for “the destitute.”

Other like-minded individuals joined Dr. Flagg in his mission endeavor. Monsignor Joseph McGlinchley, Director of the Propagation of the Faith in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and Father Frank Thill, Secretary of the Catholic Student’s Mission Crusade in Cincinnati became early proponents for the establishment of medical missions. They encouraged superiors of mission congregations, doctors and nurses to support the recently established American missions in India and China.

By 1922 Dr. Flagg with the encouragement and blessing of Father Charles Moulinier, SJ, founder and first President of the Catholic Hospital Associate (CHA), established the formal Medical Mission Committee of the CHA. The Committee’s goals included the establishment, provision and staffing of medical missions at home and abroad.

The success of the Medical Mission Committee was evident by 1928 when its members requested permission to assume independent control of the program. In February 1928 Catholic Medical Mission Board was incorporated in the state of New York.

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