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Mengistu Hailu is excited about the opportunities for the Romero Centre (Joe Higgins/Catholic Leader)

Mengistu Hailu says life as an asylum-seeker is like “walking in darkness” and the Romero Centre in Brisbane’s Dutton Park is “truly a beacon of light” for hundreds of children and adults. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Mr Hailu came to Australia as an asylum-seeker 23 years ago and is now the manager of the Romero Centre, a hub for asylum-seekers looking for assistance for challenges such as children’s counselling, housing, English language courses and employment workshops.

He said some people stop by just for some food or a food voucher, others for a community art class or English class, and others to use computers for visa applications or legal services.

Mr Hailu said they saw about 300 children and 500 adults every year and each were helped according to their needs.

The Romero Centre was previously operated by Mercy but on July 1, it was brought under the Archdiocese of Brisbane, where it would be supported by Evangelisation Brisbane.

“When we heard that Mercy Community were unable to continue their support of the Romero Centre, we immediately sensed a conviction to step in to ensure Romero’s future,” EB executive director Deacon Peter Pellicaan said.

“We had already launched the Refugee Sponsorship Initiative as well as extending our multicultural care provision, so this opportunity felt like another step toward what God was already calling us into.

“Our Lord calls all the baptised to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19 – 20), and disciples are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner.

“This is exactly what Romero does.

“We are deeply grateful to Mercy Community for their support of the Romero Centre in recent years, and we look forward to this exciting new chapter with the Archdiocese of Brisbane.”

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Church “has always been called to serve the most vulnerable: the widow, the stranger, the refugee as the Bible has it.”

“In assuming responsibility for the Romero Centre we are obeying that call and moving beyond words to action,” he said.


Romero Centre finds a new home with Brisbane archdiocese (By Joe Higgins, The Catholic Leader)