Acting on Pope Francis’ declaration of the Year of Mercy, the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province have been collecting funds to dig wells in Africa. Remembering that one of the corporal works of mercy is to “give drink to the thirsty,” the friars decided to provide wells in areas where the Franciscans are serving, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in South Sudan.
Widespread violence in South Sudan, has stalled that part of the project; but the project in the DRC is moving ahead as planned.
In February 2017, the first well was completed in the village of Mulenga. Before their installation, the women and girls of Mulenga had to walk nearly four miles to find water for their families. A second well is nearing completion in the village of Kienge. In all, the friars hope to fund the construction of at least five wells. To date, the Franciscans have collected nearly $90,000. The average cost of a well is $18,500.
Franciscan Friar Jean-Marie Mufeji is a native of the DRC. He is pastor of a “parish” that covers approximately 5,000 square kilometers encompassing 25 villages. Many of those villages do not have ready access to safe drinking water. Friar Jean-Marie determines where wells are most needed and then oversees each project.
This is an ongoing project, and funds are still being solicited. To make an online gift, donors can go to franciscancharities.org. Checks should be made out to Franciscan Charities and mailed to Year of Mercy Project, 3140 Meramec St., St. Louis, MO, 63118.
For additional information, Father John Eaton, OFM, can be contacted at Franciscan Charities, or call (314) 655-0551.
Franciscan friars serve the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois at Springfield, Teutopolis, Alton and Quincy.
Father John Eaton, OFM, contributed to this article.