Immaculate Heart of Mary Orphanage
The best way to describe the village where the Orphanage is situated? CATHOLIC. Of one hundred families, ninety-nine are Catholic. This little village, nestled in an arid, barren stretch of land, 18 miles outside of Hyderabad, is a rarity in predominantly Hindu India. It is a miraculous village of grace. Where twenty-five years ago there was nothing, now there is a village with a parish church, English middle school (the only one in the area, including the more affluent Hindu sections), a dispensary, and an orphanage. Father Gruner, Salvatore Annunziata (Our Lady's bodyguard), Anthony Sebastian (our India office manager), and myself, Father Roberts, arrived in the village on February 26, 2000, for the inauguration of the brand new dispensary by His Grace Archbishop Saminini Arulappa. First, we began with a village procession with Our Lady of Fatima. Every family “washed the feet” of Our Lady with precious water in a drought-stricken area. The day before Father Gruner told me that Our Lady would bring the much-needed rain. Sure enough, as we passed into the parish church at the end of the procession, it rained: “Rorate eaeli desuper...” (God pours down graces on us.)
Not just any rain, but monsoon force rain! Next, we toured the Orphanage. Pure, innocent, happy children are what we encountered. They mobbed the priest (me) and the football star (Sal): the spiritual and the temporal. I blessed, and he signed autographs. The children love to touch, and gaze. We tried to show them a little bit of affection as they do not have families to provide this. I distributed little gifts to the children.
Many of our children in North America are jaded. They want Nintendo or cash, and they are still not happy. The orphanage children were so happy to receive little mementos. It’s as if Heaven had opened up for them. I was able to teach them catechism a couple of times (you could have heard a pin drop), and give them each a “penny catechism”. I also told a few jokes — laughter is international! Then the children put on a big cultural program in front of the dispensary for Father Gruner. They danced so very well. In fact, I have rarely encountered such talented, loveable children. You could see, during the singing, dancing, and sketches, that they put their whole heart into it. I promised to send them a care package. It’s sent! The postage is horribly expensive though. Thanks to all members of the Society of the Child Jesus on behalf of Our Lady’s little orphans for the monthly gifts you have made and continue to make.