Catholic Mission launches 2013 Propagation of the Faith Appeal focusing on rescuing children from child trafficking and child labour in India

Sr Clara Devaraj, Photo from Catholic Mission

Sr Clara Devaraj, Photo from Catholic Mission

Media Release, 20 May, 2013

Catholic Mission has officially launched its 2013 Propagation of the Faith Church Appeal with the theme ‘Do not be afraid… I will rescue you.’ This campaign will appear in parishes around Australia throughout the coming months, as well as online and via a direct mail campaign, and highlights the missionary response to the desperate reality of child trafficking and child labour in India and throughout the world. All donations raised from the appeal will be used to fund Catholic Mission’s work with communities in over 160 countries around the world; providing vital support that assists whole parishes in their pastoral work.

The campaign was inspired by the Bible verse Jeremiah 1:8, and centres on the incredible work of Sister Clara Devaraj and her fellow Salesian sisters who work tirelessly in Chennai (formerly known as Madras) to rescue young girls from the tragic circumstances associated with extreme poverty; providing them with a safe and caring environment at their Marialaya Children’s Home.

Every day countless young children are stolen from, or sold by, their families into domestic work and prostitution against their will. Many are also forced to become street beggars just to survive. Some even have their precious body organs forcibly removed and sold on the black market. Distressingly, these innocent children are seen simply as commodities.

With support from Catholic Mission, the sisters provide a nurturing home for these young, often traumatised girls, in addition to counselling, medical care, education and spiritual formation. For them, faith and action go together, so their aim is to protect these children and to encourage them to see their worth as a beloved child of God.

“Working with children at risk gives much satisfaction and makes a person fulfilled,” says Sister Clara. “It is a mission where there are a lot of opportunities to live like Jesus by being compassionate, forgiving, and caring to the youth and children who are under our care and protection without any expectation.”

Catholic Mission Deputy National Director, Mr Peter Gates, says, “I really hope that Australian Catholics will generously support this campaign through both prayers and financial contributions. This issue of children who are so vulnerable is a very difficult and challenging one but so very important to bring to the attention of all, in the hope that even more good can be done. I have been incredibly touched by the amazing but heart-wrenching individual stories of the young girls who had been stolen from and sold by their families into child labour, but have now found hope for the future through the love and care they receive from Sister Clara. The transformation of these girls is incredible. And the work of the Salesian Sisters and Sister Clara is incredible, as is their faith in God and the children. Sister Clara is truly a hero to these young girls.”

Sister Clara is visiting Australia between 6-27 June 2013 on behalf of Catholic Mission to promote the work of Marialaya and will be speaking in parishes, schools and at donor events in the following dioceses: Sydney, Wollongong, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Melbourne and Ballarat.

Father Faustine Lobo, the National Director of Catholic Mission in India, who also features in the DVD ‘Do not be afraid … I will rescue you‘ is also visiting Australia (between 3-19 June 2013) and will speak in the following dioceses: Sydney, Bathurst, Brisbane and Perth.

Sister Clara and Father Faustine are both available for interviews while in Australia.

For further information on the campaign or to make a donation, visit To watch the campaign DVD visit and to download a copy of the parish appeal kit visit

For media enquiries and to arrange an interview with Sister Clara and/or Father Faustine, please contact Natalie Moses, National Fundraising and Communications Manager on: (02) 9919 7800