Message From Sister Linda
For the past 114 years, Holy Family Institute (HFI) has been in the forefront of solving some of society’s toughest problems for children, youth, and families. HFI’s mission is based on our sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Early in the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, our sisters were asked by the Bishops of the Church in the United States, to come to this country. And so we did. Our community came to this country and established a wide variety of ministries to educate, to care for the sick and homeless and orphans, to meet the needs of the impoverished, the elderly, the physically and mentally challenged…in a word, to reach out to all members of the family of God, even those in a foreign land – the United States of America.
As it says on our congregation’s website: “We recognize our responsibility to develop a global perspective that responds to the needs of our multicultural Church.”
Holy Family Institute’s particular mission is to empower children and families to lead responsible lives and develop healthy and meaningful relationships built on faith, hope, and love.
From our founding in 1900 until today, HFI is known for providing a refuge for children in need of a safe, nurturing, family environment. At the turn of the 20th century the children and youth served by HFI were primarily from Polish families who immigrated to America seeking a better future.
Over the course of time, Holy Family has adjusted to changing social conditions and a changed understanding regarding what works best for such children and families. From an orphanage to a child welfare agency; from a provider of residential treatment services to a leading provider of prevention and education services, Holy Family has proven over and over again its ability to adapt to meet the changing needs.
When called upon to help 12 children from Haiti who were removed from their homeland in the face of a disaster, we did so. These children were not freed for adoption and were in Pittsburgh without proper authority. Nonetheless, HFI stepped up to take them in until the government could sort out their legal status.
We believe the children fleeing Central America are involved in a disaster not of their own making and are in need of care. We are inspired by our faith to respond to this crisis and welcome these children as they are among the most vulnerable in the world as they make this dangerous journey to the US.
We have agreed to take in the most vulnerable, the very young children under the age of 12 who make up about 20% of the migrating children. Many of these children are fleeing violent situations and have endured a long and dangerous journey. We will provide the children with food, clothing, housing, education, counseling, and recreation. Most of the children will be with us about 30 – 40 days while waiting for reunification with their parents or relatives.
The children will attend classes on the campus in a building that is separate from the new high school.
On occasion, the children may attend activities in the community with supervision by staff members. HFI has its own swimming pool, play fields, gymnasium, and tennis court.
When children come into the HHS program, they are given a well-child exam and all needed childhood vaccinations to protect against communicable diseases. They are also screened for tuberculosis, and receive a mental health exam. If children are determined to have any communicable disease or have been exposed to a communicable disease, they are placed in a program or facility that has the capacity to quarantine. If they have mental health problems, they are similarly placed in a specialized facility to meet their needs, and not in a temporary shelter.