Googled: Fr. Edward Phillips ’68, AIDS missioner

Published: December 2006

In the slums of Nairobi, a city of more than 3 million, the incidence of AIDS is 50 percent. Nevertheless, here, and throughout much of East Africa, the deadly infection’s name is rarely mentioned. It’s called “the sickness of these days.” Working since the 1970s among African people who are frightened, angry, and often in denial, with meager resources at his disposal, Fr. Edward Phillips ’68 has been an educator, advocate, and friend. Recognized by the University in October with an Alumni Award of Excellence, Phillips is the founder and head of the Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program, the largest single provider of anti-retroviral treatment in Nairobi province, with clinics providing treatment to more than 3,000 patients in Nairobi and the surrounding Kenyan countryside.

Following college, Phillips, a Boston-area native, enrolled at Maryknoll, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, in Ossining, N.Y., from which he was sent on his first assignment to Africa as a student. Shortly after his 1974 ordination, he returned to Africa where he has served in a variety of roles: administrator of the Maryknoll Language School, teacher and chaplain to secondary students at the St. Pius minor seminary in Musoma, Tanzania, chaplain and lecturer at Kenyata University, and, since 1993, director of the Nairobi Archdiocese AIDS Program.

“Our action of unconditional love and acceptance of our patients is the first step for many of our patients to believe that they are lovable,” Phillips writes in the web publication Our Lived Experience of Mission in Africa. “AIDS ministry also makes us aware of what it means to be with the downtrodden as society closes its eyes to their suffering, to be a prophetic voice for our patients and not be heard. AIDS ministry invites us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and try to love as Jesus did.”

This feature was posted on Friday, December 15, 2006 and is filed under Research.