Good Samaritan Sisters join together in caring for community

A collaboration born of a shared name and a shared charism is bearing fruit in Uganda where a medical centre that will provide healthcare to the community is under construction.

At an international gathering of leaders of religious institutes (UISG) held in Rome in May 2019, Congregational Leader Sister Patty Fawkner became acquainted with Sr John Evangelist Mugisha, the Leader of a religious congregation in Uganda named the Good Samaritan Sisters. 

“Sr John sought me out among 800 conference members because she could see that we had the same name,” Patty said. “She invited me to visit Uganda to see how the bonds between our Good Samaritan congregations could be strengthened.”

In December 2019, Sister Veronica McCluskie went to Uganda on Patty’s behalf to visit the Sisters. The congregation is an institute of the diocesan rite, founded in 1978 by the late Emmanuel Cardinal Kiwanuka Nsubuga in the Archdiocese of Kampala.

Uganda is not much bigger than Victoria but has a population of 43 million. The congregation’s Mother House and headquarters are located at Nalukolongo.

Veronica said she experienced a vibrant and energetic community whose simple yet profound focus is to be Good Samaritan to all with whom they come in contact. “I was surprised, amazed and deeply touched by this group of women,” she said.

“The Sisters are involved in teaching, nursing and midwifery, social work and care of orphans, many as a result of AIDS. They are counsellors, secretaries, catechists, administrators and agriculturalists.”

Sr John introduced Veronica to some of the members of her council to discuss ways in which their congregations might support each other and work together.

“They had a dream to build a dispensary (health clinic) that would service the needs of their orphanage, schools and the local community,” Veronica said.

The Sisters minister within a culture where corruption and poverty abound. Due to the legacy of their founder, they had the land but not the means to build.

The Good Sams in Australia decided to give $US10,000 per annum over three years to help the Ugandan Sisters realise their dream.

The money will help to fund the construction of a dispensary with reception area, doctor’s consulting room, a room to store medication, a laboratory, separate rooms for children, women and men, two self-contained rooms for seriously ill people, and a counselling and labour room for pregnant women.

Construction commenced in April this year and Sr John has been in regular email contact with updates.

“Greetings and well-wishes from the Good Samaritan Sisters. The peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and the congregation,” Sr John wrote.

“This is to appreciate from the bottom of my heart the assistance totalling to 8,973,092 Uganda shillings for the dispensary.”

Caring for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an added expense. The Sisters operate a small farm and have had to sell some of the animals to help with the cost of building the dispensary.

“Construction is moving fast. People within the locality are eager to be treated. Our Sisters and people with disabilities who we take care of are also happy,” Sr John wrote.

“Long live Good Samaritan Sisters, Australia! God’s plans are not our plans. Who knew this would happen?

“Greet everyone for us, we are together in spirit. United in prayers.”

To read Veronica McCluskie’s reflection on her time with the Good Samaritan Sisters in Uganda, click here.

This article was published in the October 2021 edition of The Good Oil.