Fr. Michael Della Penna with the children

Welcome o The Valley Of The Angels

Fr. Michael Della Penna with childrenFOR OVER 60 YEARS, Franciscan Father Rocco Famiglietti had been a missionary in various parts of Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He experienced first hand the devastating effects that poverty, sickness and a lack of education had on the region, and especially on the young.

 

Father Rocco clearly saw that these poor countries were unable to provide a healthy environment for their children to blossom and so could not cultivate their greatest resource.

 

Because he firmly believed children were not only the future of the Church and the country but their surest hope, Fr Rocco dreamed of building a home where the poorest of these poor children could be protected, taken care of and educated, but above all, a place where they would be surrounded with love and human warmth.

 

Thus, from the very beginning, Fr. Rocco’s vision, informed by his great faith, sought to create a place that not only met their material needs but would focus on their integral human development. In this way, Fr. Rocco anticipated Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritatis which exhorts us to shape “a new vision of the future.” This vision is aimed at affirming their unconditional value and dignity as children of God made in his image and likeness. In February of 2010, Pope Benedict spoke about helping "especially those persons who are the most vulnerable and defenseless, such as children, who, without proper nourishment, see their physical and psychological growth compromised," by "promoting the lives of everyone and making them dignified."

 

In 1987 Fr. Rocco got his chance when he enlisted a very special and generous benefactor, Rene Abularach, who was interested in donating land (some 14 manzanas-about 25 acres) a few kilometers east of Guatemala City. This property was specifically designated to be developed for the purpose of educating and caring for abandoned and orphaned children.

 

After dedicating the land to Our Lady of the Angels, "Papa" Rocco, as he was lovingly called by the children, invited a number of friends, benefactors and some of the people from the nearby pueblo to celebrate a mass with him at the site in early November 1988. A cross was constructed on the spot to commemorate the event. It was not long after that the construction of the buildings followed and the first stone was placed on December 1989. By 1992 the multi purpose building, friary, sister’s convent and children’s dormitories were completed.

 

In January of 1993, Valley of the Angels Orphanage opened its doors to the first group of 26 children. These children were placed in the care of Sister Maria de la Paz Oliva Flores and the Sacred Heart nuns, who later were replaced with Franciscan sisters. When the Franciscan sisters could no longer fulfill the Apostolate in 1995, Mother Julia Vides of the Carmelite nuns of San Jose was invited to take on the task. She along with Hermana Marguerite continue to oversaw the administrative operation of the school until 2011.

 

On February 26, 2000 the new school building was ready to go. This building now houses 9 grades of students, who along with their formal studies attend music, computer and physical education classes. In 2008, the newly finished Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels received the prestigious first prize for architectural design.

 

Since 2011, Sor Doris, Sor Mirna and Sor Hilda from the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have joined us and have already had a major impact in nourishing the spiritual lives of the children in order to help them grow in their relationship with God as well as in sharing their gift of music.