Inaugurated on March 22, 1986, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II was the beginning of a new kind of future for many. It all started with the dream of Father Joe Walijewski, a missionary priest from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Father Joe came to Peru in 1971 and spent almost two decades in Villa El Salvador where he founded Christ the Savior Parish, Villa’s first parish.
In 1978, Father Joe was sent to Poland, as the official representative of the Church in Peru, during Pope John Paul’s first visit to his homeland. Father Joe was among the few privileged to visit personally with the Pope, and during their conversation, Father Joe invited the Pope to visit the poverty of Peru. A few years later, in 1985, Father Joe had the opportunity to visit again with Pope John Paul II, and tell him about his dream of building a home for poor and abandoned children, during his first papal visit to Peru. The Pope, impressed with Father Joe’s commitment and enthusiasm, donated $50,000 which was used to begin the initial structure of the home which now bears his name. And so, after 17 years as pastor in Villa el Salvador, Father Joe moved to Lurín to start his next project, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II
Father Joe found his inspiration after seeing how so many of Lima’s children live in desperate poverty. One day, while walking through the slums of Lima, he noticed what appeared to be a pile of old newspapers begin to move. Then, the heads of a little girl and boy popped out. These children, like so many street kids of Lima, had spent the night with only the newspapers to protect them from the cold. He thought to himself, “How can I go home to a warm bed, when so many children are living in these conditions?”
The orphanage began with two children, a foreign volunteer, and one tutor. One year later the orphanage was home to 32 children and six tutors. Currently, we have 64 children between 4 to 17 years old, and 24 Family Teachers.
To learn more about the life and works of Father Joe Walijewski and the cause for his Beatification and Canonization, take a look at Father Joe's Guild.