Palo’s Pope Francis Center now houses abandoned elderly, orphans

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The Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo Leyte, financed by the Vatican, was blessed by the Holy Father, on Jan. 17, 2015 (Photo: Eileen Nazareno – Ballesteros)

PALO, Leyte, July 12, 2015 -– Six elderly and a teen orphan now live at the Vatican-built Pope Francis Center for the Poor complex located at the foot of Bukid Tabor in Brgy. Arado of this town, a stone’s throw away from the Bishop’s Residence (Gonzagahaus).

Sr. Matthia Cho, local supervisor of the Congregation of Kkttongnae Sisters of Jesus, said it was determined that the said individuals were abandoned, based on thorough inquiries into their background, before they were accommodated at the Complex.

As wards, the elderly and the teen whose identities they choose not to disclose for security reasons, have their basic needs met, such as food, care, and shelter. They are the first of the twenty elderly and twenty orphans the Complex could house.

Gift to Palo

The Pope Francis Center for the Poor, erected on a sprawling 1,414.60 square meter plot of land, was Pope Francis’ own gesture of mercy and compassion, which was also the theme of his visit to the Philippines in January this year.

Financed by the Vatican through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum for Human and Christian Development for the amount of Php 60 million, the complex contains five buildings for receiving guests, a kitchen, bedrooms, a dining area, and maintenance facilities.

The facility, which is the Supreme Pontiff’s gift to the people of Leyte who were victims of the super typhoon Yolanda, is primarily intended to house abandoned elderly and orphans. When the project was broached to the archdiocese’ leadership, it was with the understanding that the archdiocese will find the means to manage and maintain it.

“After Yolanda hit Palo, we came to see what happened here. We heard that the archbishop is looking for a congregation that could manage this so we went to him [to tell] him we are willing to open a center here in Palo but he suggested to us to manage [one already existing] here, not to open our own. So we accepted his proposal,” narrated Cho.

Relying on donations

According to her, local residents told them about the elderly and the teen orphan. “Many people already knew that we inaugurated the orphanage and elderly house, so the neighbours informed us [about them] and they visited. And after the interview and [we] saw their situation, we brought them here,” she recalled.

At the moment, the Kktttongnae Sisters fundraise through personal solicitations. “We have no income that is why we rely on donations,” Cho disclosed.

Cho also stressed that the congregation would be willing to return their wards to their legitimate families. “Why not? They should live with their family, so we will give them back to their family if they will fetch them” she said.

Du, who is the nominal head of the institution, visits the facility every now and then to check on the condition of the wards and of the facility itself, according to Cho. There are also volunteers who visit the facility to help clean the area and to talk to the elderly, bringing with them food to share. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)

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