American priest, William Charles Fryda, has opened up on a seven-year legal battle that saw him lose St Mary's Mission Hospitals in Nakuru and Elementaita to the Church, in a row pitting him against Catholic nuns.
Speaking to KTN News on Thursday, May 12, Fryda emotionally recounted how he battled in court to save the hospital from being taken over by the Church. He narrated that at some point, the legal tussle was so fierce that it led to mass exodus of staff and extremely poor services to patients.
The case of St Mary's Mission Hospital took a toll on his life in Kenya even as he risked being ex-communicated by the Church and deported for resisting the take-over.
The priest engaged in a legal tussle with the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi (ASN) over the ownership of the facility which has branches in Nakuru and Nairobi. He first moved to court in 2010 accusing the nuns of plotting to kick him out.File Photo of father William Charles FrydaFile
He argued that he sourced the funds alone with the help of donors from the US to establish the facility. Fryda stated that the hospitals set up to help the poor had been held in trust by ASN since he could not own property and thus they acquired the name St Mary's Mission Hospital.
2017 marked the end of his era in the ownership of the hospital after the Nakuru Environment and Lands Court issued a verdict in favour of the nuns.
In his judgment, Justice Sila Munyao, ordered ASN to transfer the hospitals and other properties to a charitable trust to be managed under St Mary’s Mission Hospital Ltd.
"There was a joint venture to source for donor funds and Fryda, in several letters before the court, did indicate the project ownership was to be under Assumption of Sisters Nairobi. The legal ownership can only be with the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi," the Judge ruled.
After several years of denial, regret, and re-strategising, Fryda embarked on another mission to continue with his life saving plans.
The American Catholic priest moved to Gilgil to start afresh. In 2019, he began the mission of converting a medical school and part of its dormitories into a hospital.
His efforts paid off and gave birth to St Joseph Rift Valley Hospital. The priest received support from some of the medical doctors who worked at the St Mary's Mission Hospital, giving his new venture a fresh lease of life.
St Joseph Hospital has a 100-bed capacity. On a single day, at least 120 outpatients are attended to. Most of the patients visiting the facility are people who are not satisfied with the services received elsewhere.
"The compound the hospital sits on was originally meant to house students. We converted it into a hospital. Through the assistance of our major donor, we set up a larger educational facility," he told KTN News.
Having suffered a setback in his missionary works, he says he had a change of perspective and values every individual and this gives him solace.
"We keep charges affordable to most people. Our joy is in preserving the dignity and financial stability of the families we serve," Fryda concluded.File Photo of father William Charles FrydaFile
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