Sometimes something as straightforward as a minibus is the best way to make mission happen! With help from Missio supporters, the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph are able to bring the love and hope of Jesus in safety.

The Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph (FMSJ) are a Congregation of Sisters operating in Kenya and Uganda. Their mission is to minister to those most in need – people who are experiencing extreme poverty, the sick and the dying.

The Sisters – also known as the Mill Hill Sisters – run five health projects, including three health facilities, a dispensary, and a hospital, which serves an estimated 50,000 people every year.

They also run six schools (nursery, primary and secondary) in Kenya and Uganda, and serve children with special needs at two centres.

Dangerous roads

But until last year, the congregation’s novices faced a common yet significant obstacle to their formation.

As the Sisters had no transport of their own, they had to rely on public transport which, in eastern Africa, is extremely insecure and unreliable – often a 25 minute journey can take more than two hours. At times, it is also very dangerous, especially for young women.

Maximillah, a second year Novice, shares:

‘It is worse during rainy season when we have to arrive in the house very late, and when you hear on the news about young ladies who have been drugged in public vehicles and kidnapped. We come back home very shaken.

‘I remember going for a retreat with my two sisters in Ngong Diocese – we had to shift from one matatu (shared minibus) to another, and even some motorbikes to get to our destination. In some cases, we have been forced to use costly taxi services when travelling as a group for recollections and pastoral work.

‘As part of our formation, we are required to participate in inter-novitiate courses – usually held in a suburb with no public transport. ‘To reach this centre on time, we sometimes had to rush away from our apostolate in the nearby Kibera slums.

‘Sometimes we arrived late and found the hall full, therefore having no choice but to join other latecomers sitting outside. Coming back after 5pm was rush hour – another ordeal.’

A helping hand

In July 2022, the Sisters asked for Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries’ help to buy a van of their own. With funding from legacy gifts left to Missio, in December 2022, the Sisters purchased an eleven-seater van.

Mill Hill Novice Director, Sr Bibiana says the van enables the novices to travel together safely. She shares:

‘In the short period we have had the van, it has made a big difference. We are happy and have a little pride! This van will enable us to carry out our work with ease.’

A huge ‘thank you’

Maximillah says:

‘I want to express my sincere gratitude for your generous gift. Your help brought a sigh of relief and endless joy to us. I had experienced hardships in terms of transport; I know how it feels to have this precious gift. I know my two Sisters who were professed last year, if they were here, they would be flying high with excitement… Really it has not been easy and that is why my happiness can’t be explained in this short note.

‘Thank you so much for the selfless giving of your supporters. You have really changed our lives as novices; our four postulants who are to join us, and others in future. You have played a significant role in God’s work. It is my prayer that God may continue blessing you abundantly for the services you offer to those who are in need and to His servants. Amen.’

You can help build the church of tomorrow – today

Missionaries rely on your support to bring the love and compassion of Jesus to those who are in desperate need. By supporting novices and seminarians as they train, you can help them bring the Good news of God’s love to mission dioceses for years to come. Here are some ways to support our work:

  • Support future Priests and Sisters with a donation today. Click here to give>>
  • Consider joining our sponsorship programme and form a personal prayer
    connection with a future Priest. Find out more here>>
  • Legacy gifts from our amazing supporters form a huge part of our income
    each year and ensure we can keep supporting missionaries for generations
    to come. A gift in your Will ensures that the gift of faith can be shared with
    future generations and that Missio can continue to build a strong and
    vibrant Church for the future. Find out more here>>