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Heart's Home: 'Maternal' Help to Abandoned Children (Part 2)

Interview With Its Founder, Father Thierry de Roucy

ROME, MAY 14, 2004 (Zenit) - Notable among the institutions that have responded to John Paul II's invitation to assist abused children is the Catholic association Heart's Home.

This is the second part of our interview with Father Thierry de Roucy, founder of this private association of Catholic faithful, which is present in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Part 1 appeared Tuesday.

Q: The young people who participate in Heart's Home give one or two years of their lives to this mission in some poor neighborhood of the world. At the end of their mission, how do they continue their commitment?

Father de Roucy: At the beginning, my idea was only to enable young people to have an experience of charity limited in time, as happens with military service.

However, after three years of existence of Heart's Home, a youth who was returning from Colombia came to see me and said: "Father Thierry, I want to live this experience all my life."

So I answered him: "But this has not been planned. There are many religious congregations at the service of those who suffer in which you could consecrate yourself in a definitive way. Try to get to know them."

But he insisted: "I want to live in the spirit of Heart's Home. What attracts me is the charism. I want to live with people the closeness proposed by Heart's Home; I want to live with total readiness at the service of our neighbors; I want to live compassion within a mixed community that is like a family. I think that it is not the same as a religious."

Then he said to me: "Father, I don't need you to reply to me immediately. Reflect before God and when you have a mature answer, you will give it to me."

Then, I reflected and suggested that he begin his studies to be a priest; later we would see. It's what he did. Then another youth came with the same request, and then another.

Now there are some 60 youths who have decided to consecrate their lives in Heart's Home, 15 of whom are of various nationalities who have consecrated themselves definitively. So the "Molokai Fraternity" was born.

Q: Is it a consecration?

Father de Roucy: Heart's Home is a private association of faithful, just like many communities that exist today, and it has many branches.

Those who consecrate themselves in the Molokai Fraternity make promises as consecrated lay people. There is also a priestly branch united to Heart's Home, a public association of clergymen, which seeks to be a society of apostolic life.

Q: Have they been recognized by the Church?

Father de Roucy: The Heart's Home association, as such, was recognized on Holy Thursday of 2000 by Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic of Parana.

He was the first archbishop, together with Cardinal Moreira Neves, to accept us in his dioceses, and he has never ceased to follow our development with interest and affection.

Archbishop Karlic has been, among other things, president of the Argentine episcopal conference and one of the writers of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His advice, his prayer, his love of the Church, his theological depth have been a great support for us.

Q: Where are Heart's Homes found today in the world?

Father de Roucy: In Latin America and in Asia is where there are most Heart's Homes. But we are also established in Eastern Europe, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Senegal, in Italy and in France.

Moreover, in some 20 countries we have founded a Heart's Home association which helps the team on the spot: It is in charge of the recruitment and formation of "friends of the children," at times with the help of an office.

Our last foundation took place between October-November 2003 in New York, in the Bronx. We live in a parish house that the archdiocese has put at our disposal.

We have had to face many trials to start this foundation. We had the impression that it was the worst moment to open this house. On one hand, because of the war in Iraq, France was not well regarded by the Americans and, on the other, the problems of pederasty that have affected the local Church do not facilitate our mission of assistance to children.

But we have been received in an extraordinary way and, if at this time I have a reason for consolation in Heart's Home, this is due to what happens in our Heart's Home of the United States.

Mother Teresa said that New York City was the city in greatest need of compassion. These words inspired in me for a long time the desire to found this house. I think that Mother Teresa was right.

It is harder to accept loneliness when one lives in the middle of the great city of New York than when one is a shepherd in the ...

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