On May 31, 2017, the feast of the Visitation, St. Mary’s Out of Home Care Centre was formally established at St. Mary’s Mission in Ulga, a small village in the Northern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. This centre is a response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mount Hagen to meet the needs of a growing number of children who are orphaned, abandoned, living on the streets, or being abused in their families and communities, and is staffed and operated by the SOLT Sisters. The aim of St. Mary’s is to provide temporary shelter for these vulnerable children.
Not only is St. Mary’s Centre the first home for vulnerable children within the Archdiocese, it is also one of the first of its kind in the country. In a country where children traditionally have had no voice, no name, and no protection, it was imperative that a safe and loving home was created for them. The vision of the shelter is, “Let the children come to me, to a place of love, safety and refuge in the arms of Jesus through His Body the Church.” Our goal is to render service to all, especially to those who are vulnerable and in deepest need, regardless of faith, race, and status. The focus of our service is the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of vulnerable children.
In September 2017, we accepted our first group of five children, and we currently have fourteen boys and girls between the ages of three and fifteen. While the children stay with us, we are able to provide them with healthcare, education, basic skills training, spiritual and human formation, as well as programs adapted to their specific needs and capabilities.
Our hope is to reunite the children with their relatives and/or community if this is in the best interests of the child. For the children who do not have the option of returning to their families, we work to find adoptive families and permanent homes for them or sponsors to help support their educational needs.
Please pray for all of us at St. Mary’s, especially for all of our little children.
Sr. Mary of Corpus Christi, director of St. Mary’s Out of Home Care Centre, contributed the information for this article.