Sr. Maria Paula has died in the Baldegg monastery

Sr. Maria Paula Wicki, the founder and long-time director of the leprosy hospital in Ifakara, has died at the age of 96.

Sr. Maria Paula came to Ifakara for the first time in 1954 as a young sister and initially worked in the St. Francis Hospital. Then, together with Dr. Karl Schöpf and the Diocese of Innsbruck under Bishop Paulus Rusch and Vicar General Hammerle, she founded the large leprosy center "Nazareti", which she managed with heart and soul for over 50 years. Far-sighted as she was, she also built over 100 houses, the rent from which was to be used to finance the Nazareti after her departure. When the number of leprosy patients decreased, she took in disabled people and those in need of care. It was particularly important to her to bring her charges back to their familiar home environment as soon as possible. To this end, she collected a lot of money to convert her patients homes to be handicapped accessible. These were wheelchair accessible, were equipped with handrails and many other aids to enable patients to live as comfortably as possible. In this respect, she was also far ahead of our facilities in Europe.

For health reasons, Sr. Maria Paula returned to her home monastery in Baldegg in 2007, where she was able to spend the last years of her life full of energy and spiritual freshness until her death at the age of 96.

We met Sr. Maria Paula for the first time in 1995 in Ifakara and since then regular visits to her in Nazareti have been an integral part of all our trips to Tanzania. She was there to help and advise us - initially inexperienced "Africans"- especially when we needed psychological support due to the sometimes deplorable conditions in St. Francis Hospital. A special highlight was always when she invited us to her famous "Rösti".

We will always remember her with gratitude.


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