The controversy surrounding the ownership of the multi-billion shilling St Mary’s Mission Hospital chain has taken a new twist after a defence witness credited a priest for its success.
Fr Lance Nadeau, a chaplain at Kenyatta University, during cross examination, told a Nakuru court that American missionary priest William Charles Fryda was the brains behind the hospital’s overwhelming success.
Dr Fryda, who is embroiled in a court battle over the ownership of the property with Catholic nuns, was suspended from the ministry in 2014 by his New York-based Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Society after refusing to withdraw the case.
“Dr Fryda was the A power and A brain behind the great success of the hospital project, which everyone is now proud of. I always sent my students there to experience its super services and tremendously low charges,” said Fr Nadeau.
The dispute started when the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi lost a case in which they tried to stop Dr Fryda from running the hospitals.
They accused him of harassment, intimidation and mismanagement of funds.
Later, Dr Fryda sued John Cardinal Njue in 2010 for allegedly forcing him to hand over the hospitals to the nuns.
The priest claims he owns the hospitals and that they were built using donor funds to provide affordable medical services to the poor.
Fr Nadeau further revealed that then-Archbishop Ndingi mwana a’Nzeki had even proposed that Dr Fryda be awarded for his exemplary missionary work.
The proposal was, however, rejected by the Maryknoll society and the canon lawyer, Mr Richard Hochwalt, on claims that it was against church laws.
The witness, a former regional superior for African region, however, maintained that the project idea was conceived by Dr Fryda and the Assumption Sisters, who were represented by their then-superior-general Sister Felix Mwikali.
On the suspension of Dr Fryda, the witness revealed that the charges of disobedience levelled against Dr Fryda emerged after he stood firm on settling the dispute in court.
According to Fr Nadeau, the suspension was a consequence of his persistent disobedience of orders from Maryknoll to withdraw the case that caused a public scandal.
Hearing resumes on February 13.