HOPE FOR UGANDA is a registered Minnesota 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation formed in 1990 to support certain educational and relief activities in the Archdiocese of Gulu in Northern Uganda. Based in the United States, the foundation is dedicated to making a difference in the Archdiocese of Gulu in Northern Uganda thru humanitarian assistance.  On-going conflict in this area has created a high level of poverty to the people in Northern Uganda. Most live below the poverty line. Supplies of food, medicine, shelter, clean drinking water, educational opportunities, care for the HIV/AIDS victims and orphans are very much needed. Education is a powerful means of fighting ignorance and poverty. Hope for Uganda provides assistance in helping to develop a school which gives opportunity to young people who feel abandoned so that they can develop their talents and become useful citizens for the transformation of the society.

We empower those affected by the war-torn state of affairs of Northern Uganda by promoting recovery and self-sustainability through prayer and education.

The generous support of this apostolate affects the lives of our young people by financing the formation and education of young men for the priesthood, and helps provide quality education for boys and girls in this war-torn country. The apostolate provides support for two private educational facilities:

      • Sacred Heart Seminary, in Gulu, Uganda: a minor seminary providing a high school (grades 7-12) education for boys preparing for a vocation to the priesthood.
      • Archbishop Flynn Secondary School (AFSS): a school (grades 7-12) in the Pader District (approximately 2 ½ hours from Gulu). AFSS is strongly committed to maintaining an equal ratio of girls to boys.



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Dan and Bobbi Vaughan

Our apostolate began in 1990 when Dan and Bobbi Vaughan met Monsignor Matthew Odong when he was in Minnesota making an appeal for the Consolata Missionaries.  At that time, he was the newly appointed rector of Sacred Heart Seminary

They became acquainted with this young priest’s story. Fr. Matthew had recently been newly appointed by his bishop to re-open Sacred Heart Seminary in the Archdiocese of Gulu and shared his experience accompanying his suffering people through harsh realities of violent warfare, displacement camps and abject poverty in Northern Uganda. He was having difficulty finding funds to keep the Seminary operating.

Touched by the friendship that was formed, Dan and Bobbi gave Fr. Matthew a modest donation to help begin re-building the seminary upon his return home. Dan and Bobbi began sending money and later encouraged some of their friends to join this effort. Pete and Dottie Truax met Monsignor through Dan and Bobbi and joined them in 1996 to help raise funds and do advocacy work to raise awareness of the war between the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and the Ugandan Government.

For more than twenty years this apostolate had been known as “Sacred Heart Seminary”.  In 1990, in spite of continued violence by rebels against their own people, Fr. Matthew Odong reopened the seminary in that war-torn region.  Because of the generosity of so many of you, buildings were repaired and life in the seminary was restored.   Enrollment in 1990 was only 35 students.  Today (2016) we can proudly boast 164 young men are living and studying there with the dream of becoming priests!

When the war ended in 2006, most of the secondary schools in Northern Uganda had been destroyed or fallen into disrepair.  Msgr. Matthew pleaded with us to consider building a new school to give his poor suffering people hope for the future.  This was the birth of Archbishop Flynn Secondary School, named by Msgr. to honor his friend and strong supporter of the apostolate, former Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Archdiocese.  The school has been in operation since 2009 and currently (2016) houses, feeds, nurtures, and educates 496 very fortunate boys and girls.hope-for-uganda-2

Because this apostolate’s outreach has grown to include support for Archbishop Flynn Secondary School as well as Sacred Heart Seminary, it was decided the name needed to reflect that change.  “HOPE FOR UGANDA” was given unanimous support by the board of directors and Msgr. Matthew.  We believe it aptly represents what your tremendously faithful and ongoing generosity has meant to the people of Northern Uganda.  It is our hope that we continue to work together to fulfill their dreams.

Hope for Uganda’s Board of Directors, Fr. Matthew and our Ugandan partners believe that education is the key to
eliminating poverty, and provides hope for youth at Sacred Heart Seminary and Archbishop Flynn Secondary School. The generosity of our wonderful benefactors allows us to continue enlightening young minds and spreading hope throughout Northern Uganda. We eagerly invite you to join our efforts.

Over the years, by the Grace of God, funds raised by this apostolate increased to the point where other projects within the Archdiocese of Gulu were able to be met. Some of these projects include:

  • Renovation of buildings at the Seminary.
  • Renovation of some Churches, Chapels and Priest’s rectories affected by the
    conflict throughout the Archdiocese.
  • Providing transportation for clergy to minister to the people.
  • Providing Mass intentions to priests of the Archdiocese of Gulu.
  • Drilling of 12 wells to provide clean water for the people.
  • Helping to cover educational costs of seminarians in the minor and major
    seminaries. As a result, there were 17 young men ordained in the past three
  • Supporting the education of some orphans whose parents died of HIV/AIDS
    or werekilled in the conflict.
  • Providing books for children in primary and secondary schools.
  • Building Archbishop Flynn Secondary School in Pader where no secondary
    school exists. This was the largest project undertaken. The school is a
    boarding school that provides secondary education for girls and boys.

The Catholic Church in Northern Uganda not only brings the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people but also provides 70% of humanitarian needs such as schools, dispensaries, hospitals and wells to provide clean water to the community.



Working in collaboration with our Executive Director, the Board of Directors is responsible for fundraising, leadership and direction of Hope for Uganda, review of financial information sent from the two schools, review of grant requests from the schools, approval of all funds sent to the Archdiocese for the use of the schools, and general promotion of Sacred Heart Seminary and Archbishop Flynn Secondary School in the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda.

  • William Kottemann – Chairman
  • Joe Ditsch – Secretary
  • Mark Whims – Board Member
  • Peter Westerhaus – Board Member
  • Steve Holm – Board Member
  • Bob King – Board Member
  • Doug Williams – Board Member


From its inception, Hope for Uganda has been organized and operated solely by volunteers. Pressing financial and operational demands resulting from the amazing progress being made at the schools demonstrated the need to add a full-time staff member to the organization. In November 2016 Todd Ziesmer was selected by the Board of Directors to be Hope for Uganda’s Executive Director.

Todd’s qualifications for this job are unique. He not only brings 30 years of business experience in growth and development activities, including service to non-profit organizations such as Legatus, Relevant Radio, and the World Apostolate of Fatima, but has also been a longtime supporter of Hope for Uganda in a very personal way. Todd is married to Dan and Bobbi Vaughan’s daughter, Marie. They live in Orono, MN, have four grown children and three grandchildren. Together they have known Monsignor Matthew since his dream began to provide education for the children of his homeland. If there’s a story, Todd has heard it, a roadblock he has prayed for it, and has rejoiced as each new dream became a reality.


Working in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Gulu, the Ugandan spiritual development of students through innovative curriculum, student support services and faith formation.  As funds are needed, the Ugandan staff prepares grant requests for each school or other activity, and forwards them to Hope for Uganda in the United States for review and approval.

Archbishop John Baptiste Odama appointed Berna Prisca Atim as Head Teacher at AFSS.  The appointment follows the passing of Sister Viola in September 2014.  Berna had been acting Head Teacher once Sr. Viola left her position for medical treatment months prior to her death.