“I have done what is mine to do. May Christ show you what is yours to do.”

~ St. Francis of Assisi

As a young man, Francis of Assisi always turned away when he came upon a stranger who was sick or in trouble. He went out of his way to avoid anything unsettling. The young Francis only wanted to live in the happy world of a wealthy, young man and not be bothered by the troubles of others. But Jesus changes the world by inspiring us to see him each time we see one another. Jesus transformed Francis, and the next time Francis came upon a leper along the road, he did not turn away. He jumped off his horse, gave the leper some coins, and kissed him. Maybe we all have turned away, on occasion, during the difficult time of the global pandemic. But, Today we can save a life.

What changed Francis’ heart?

What did he see when he looked? Francis did not see the leper, he saw Jesus. From that time onward, Francis saw Jesus in everyone, so how could he turn away? After this transformation, Francis of Assisi lived with people who had leprosy. He fed them, washed them, and wiped and bandaged their sores with gentle hands.If we treat others as Francis did, we too will see Jesus in everyone we meet. We will not be able to turn away. Today, we can save a life.

Franciscan missionaries today

Franciscan missionaries today continue to see Jesus in the poor, the afflicted, the sick, and the dying. Unfortunately, leprosy is still prevalent in many developing countries of the world. Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa, is one of those countries. Franciscans were sent there more than sixty years ago to minister to people with leprosy. Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in our world. Our Franciscan hospital in Cumura treats patients afflicted with dreadful, life-threatening diseases. Leprosy, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis are common, and now they are treating COVID-19 patients as well.

There Are So Many That Need Care

This year, the hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of people who have arrived seeking emergency care. They often walk for miles on forest trails or dusty roads to get to our hospital. The global pandemic has changed the local economy for the worse, and many of the sick and the afflicted are also suffering from malnutrition. There are 122 beds and, many times, there are just not enough! In one wing of the hospital, there are fifty-five beds for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients, seventeen beds for those with leprosy and other skin conditions, and five beds for recovery. In an average month, thirty-seven HIV patients, adults and children, are hospitalized. Their hospital stays average about twenty-six days.

The general hospital wing has thirteen beds for maternity patients, ten beds for obstetrics, and twenty-three pediatric beds. Many of the children being admitted are suffering from malnutrition. There is also an outpatient clinic and an emergency room.The high demand for medical care has depleted the available inventory of medicine. In such a poor country where malnutrition is common, food is the first medicine for patients because their immune systems must be strengthened.

Today we can save a life

During this time of pandemic crisis, Father Victor Quematcha, OFM and the other friars have lost much of their local support and do not have the money to purchase food for their patients. They have asked for an emergency grant of $13,000 to help them purchase enough food and $12,500 to purchase enough medicine to get through these difficult times.

I ask you to open your heart once again to support our missionary friars working in our hospital in Cumura and at our other mission clinics around the developing world. They work all day treating people with life-threatening, dangerous diseases because they see Jesus in each one of them. Fr. Victor and the friars pray every day for good and generous friends like you who support their work. It costs about $600,000 a year to operate the Cumura hospital. This includes the pharmacy, caring for the lepers during and after treatment, caring for children, and feeding all the patients.

Any Gift Can Make A Difference

I pray you will understand the urgency of our current situation. Can you offer your prayers and financial support today to help purchase emergency medicines and food for our Franciscan hospital in Cumura? Please help as best you can. Any gift can make a difference! It costs about $374 a day for the medicines used at our hospital, a little more than $3 dollars for one patient per day. Many people think leprosy is a disease of the past. If only that were true! Although there is now a cure for leprosy, early diagnosis and treatment are essential. A gift of only $60 would provide the medicine to treat twenty people suffering from leprosy, AIDS, or any other life-threatening disease for one day. A gift of $374 would provide enough medicine to treat all the hospital patients for one day!

Just like Saint Francis of Assisi, seeing Jesus in everyone and serving the poorest and most helpless are top priorities for Franciscans today. Allow Jesus to transform your life. Do not turn away, but look at these people and see him! Please send a gift today to help provide lifesaving food and medicine for our Franciscan hospital in Guinea-Bissau.

With a humble heart, I thank you for your continued kindness and faithful

support of our Franciscan missionaries.

Peace and blessings,

Bro. Andrew Brophy, OFM

Executive Director


P.S. With deepest gratitude, I pray our Lord blesses you for generously helping Franciscan missionaries provide medicine to the poor who are suffering from life-threatening diseases.

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