February 2024

Fruits of a Good Samaritan connection continue to flourish

The bonds between two congregations of Sisters who share a name and a charism have been strengthened through the life-saving healthcare provided by the St Veronica Medical Centre in Uganda.

At a conference in Rome in 2019, Sister Patty Fawkner (then Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in Australia) met Sister John Evangelist Mugisha, leader of the Good Samaritan Sisters of Uganda. This encounter was the beginning of a fruitful relationship, which led to the Australian Good Sams funding a new medical centre in Kampala.

The St Veronica Medical Centre was blessed and opened in 2023 and is named after Sister Veronica McCluskie SGS, who visited the Ugandan Sisters in 2019 to discuss potential cooperation between the two congregations.

Sister John said the people were very happy to have a local medical centre. “Before the centre opened, they had to travel long distances to get medical treatment.”

Image: Sisters of the Good Samaritan.

She said the medical centre was named after St Veronica for two reasons.

“First, to remember Sister Veronica who visited us and as a sign of appreciation to the Good Samaritan Sisters of Australia. Second, to honour St Veronica, who our Catholic tradition tells us was near Jesus Christ in his suffering, while he was carrying his cross and, in her love and simplicity, she wiped Jesus’ face.”

Patty was chuffed to learn that the maternity wing had been named the Sister Patty Fawkner Maternity Ward. “The first baby born at the new facility was named Veronica and I have asked them to let me know if, and when, baby Patty is born!” she said.

Congregational Leader Sister Catherine McCahill said the Australian congregation was continuing to provide support to Sister John Evangelist and her Sisters through the purchase of water tanks for the medical centre.

“A small contribution from us makes a significant difference to their lives,” she said. “The water tanks are a practical contribution to work of the medical centre, which previously had to purchase water. Now they can capture some of the plentiful rain.”

Sr John Evangelist and Sr Patty Fawkner plant an orange tree as a symbol of a mutually fruitful
association. Image: Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Uganda.

Sister John said the Sisters and patients were very happy the centre now had a secure water supply. The tanks will also provide water to a new convent.

In addition, Catherine said two Ugandan Sisters who were enrolled in nursing and teaching degrees would have their course fees paid for three years.

“Education for ministry has always been an important aspect of life in our congregation, she said. “Again, with a small contribution, we can fund tertiary education for two Sisters each year. In some small way, we can be neighbour to this congregation. We are reminded again of the disparity of resources from one country to another in our global community.”

Sister John said this support was welcome news. “The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your Council and all Sisters and people you work with.” 

Patty was invited to visit Uganda in October last year. “It was a wonderful opportunity to engage with the Sisters and experience the living out of a Good Samaritan charism in a vastly different cultural context,” she said.

Sister John was delighted by Patty’s visit. “We were very happy to see her in Uganda,” she said. “We loved Patty’s wise words and simplicity, her joy and her jokes. It is our prayer that Catherine will visit us as well.” 

Sister Patty Fawkner with Sister Matthew, one of the original ‘Pioneers’. Image: Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Uganda.

The Ugandan congregation is only 45 years old and the first six Sisters, known as the ‘Pioneers’ are still alive. Today, there are close to 200 Professed Sisters.

Patty said the Sisters’ first and continuing ministry was the Home for the Disabled. “More than 60 children, women and men are cared for with the most basic facilities but also with the utmost dedication and compassion,” she said. “Pope Francis visited this home in 2015 and commended the Sisters on their work.”

Other ministries include nursing, teaching, outreach and compassion to those in need, and food production.

“The Ugandan soil is rich and fertile and the Sisters have a farm with vegetable crops, cattle and goats,” Patty said. “They would love to expand this farm so that they can provide food for all their Sisters and their various ministries.

“Finance (or the lack thereof) is always an issue. There is no financial support for the Sisters from Uganda. Some of the younger Sisters engage in outside employment as a much-needed source of income.

“My visit left me feeling grateful that our Congregation was able to assist the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of Uganda. Through our shared charisms, we continue to draw inspiration and encouragement from Jesus’ parable of the Kind Samaritan.”

The tanks will supply water to the medical centre and a new convent. Image: Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Uganda.

The Good Oil

‘The Good Oil’, the free, monthly e-journal of the Good Samaritan Sisters, publishes news, feature and opinion articles and reflective content which aims to nourish the spirit, stimulate thinking and encourage reflection and dialogue about contemporary issues from a Good Samaritan perspective.

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