Father Ssonko Missionary Fund

Learn About A New Way Parishioners of St. Patrick Can Give Back!

Father Baxter first met Father Ssonko in 2008.  They forged a friendship and since then have been working together to support and build a school for the students in Busaabala, Uganda!

Watch the Development of St. Mary’s Primary School, Busaabala, Uganda

Through the generous donations of many wonderful people, the students, teachers, and families in Busaabala now have access to this beautiful school!

The History of St. Mary’s Primary School – Busaabala, Uganda

The Fr. Ssonko Missionary Fund of St. Patrick Parish in Gretna, Nebraska was created to assist in the missionary work of Rev. Fr. John Baptist Ssonko, a priest of the Diocese of Lugazi in Uganda. Rev. Fr. John Baptist Ssonko is the founder of St. Mary’s Primary School in Busaabala, Uganda, in the Diocese of Lugazi. The school is located 29 miles northeast of Kampala, Uganda in the Diocese of Lugazi.

The primary role of the fund is to raise money to support the operational and capital needs of St. Mary Primary School in Busaabla, Uganda and to support Fr. Ssonko in his efforts to raise funds for the school.

In addition to his work with St. Mary’s Primary School, Fr. Ssonko is a professor at St. Mary’s National Major Seminary in Ggaba, Uganda which is just southeast of Kampala.

Meet Father Ssonko

Father Ssonko has lived and worked in Uganda all of his life.  Learn more about his story!


The Beginings – 2008

St. Mary’s Primary School project began in 2008 when Fr. Ssonko made his first trip during the summer months to stay with Fr. Gregory Baxter, who was then the pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, Nebraska.

At that time there was no school and the project began with raising funds to improve St. Mary’s Church in Busaabala which would become the home of St. Mary’s Primary School. The original church in 2008 is pictured here.

Original St. Mary’s Church in 2008

Map of Uganda and St. Mary’s Church and School

The church and school site are located one mile off the Kampala-Jinja Hwy about 29 miles northeast of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. See the red dot on the photo to the left for the location of the church and school.

Funds were raised through St. Margaret Mary Parish and the Propagation of the Faith to construct a new church building.

Click through the images below to see the building progress, students, teachers, and more.  Or, keep scrolling to reach more about the school and the needs of its students and teachers.


Once the church was completed work immediately began to fund a primary school to be built near the church since there was no Catholic school in Busaabala village or in the nearby area. Funds were gradually raised to purchase land next to the church and to construct the first classroom building for the school.

During the 10 years from 2008 until 2018, God blessed the school project with many generous donors and on January 25, 2018, the school was opened with 82 students in the lower primary grades. On opening day, the school staff included 5 teachers and 4 non-teaching staff who filled the positions of secretary/bursar, security guard, cook, and cleaner.


From 2018 to Today

Since the opening of the first primary classroom building in 2018 until today many wonderful things continued to happen due to the generosity of many donors. Funding was secured to drill a water well, purchase water tanks to store rainwater, construct an outdoor restroom, install solar panels for electricity, build a security fence, and purchase basic furniture and school supplies.

Soon after the opening of the school, the number of students quickly grew and a need for an additional classroom building quickly arose. In 2019 funds were raised to build a second classroom building and construction immediately began. This building was designed to house classrooms for students in the upper primary grades. By late 2020 the new classroom building was completed and now serves our students. The building under construction is seen above.

What are the Immediate Needs?

Today, there are 408 students in St. Mary’s Primary School who need your help!  Funds raised will help support all of these ways that the students and teachers are in need.

1. Food for the Children and a Kitchen

Another challenge is that of feeding the kids since for the last few years the weather has not favored us. Food is becoming expensive whereas because of the situations at home, some kids’ main meal is the meal they receive at school. It costs $1,500 per month to feed the students lunch and to provide breakfast and supper for those students in the dormitory.

A proper kitchen is also urgently need to prepare the daily meal for the students and to provide food for boarding students. The current kitchen is shown below.

2. Vocational Equipment

There is also a need for vocational equipment to help pupils develop life skills that can assist them in earning a living and support their families. Items such as sewing machines/tailoring machines, computers, and equipment to teach cooking classes will help ease the rampant unemployment Uganda.

3. Dormitory

Most of our pupils have to walk long distances to come to school and as a result many reach school already tired and late. To ease the problem, several classrooms have been temporarily devoted to dormitory space for some of the boys and girls. These temporary quarters are crowded and there is a need to construct a dormitory and help to improve upon the quality of education.

4. Salaries for School Faculty and Staff

With a growing student population, there is a growing need to hire new teachers and staff members. Parents cannot afford to provide for the teacher salaries. The operational of the school and the funding of salaries for teachers and staff would be impossible without your assistance.

5. Living Quarters for Faculty

Due to increasing numbers of teachers, we also need funding to construct living quarters near the school to house our faculty.

6. A Secondary School

With the Primary School now at full capacity the need has arisen to construct a Secondary School. It is important that our graduating primary students continue their Catholic education without traveling far from the from their village.