At the rise of the moon, shadows will move across bedroom walls at Metanoia Manor like choruses of demons. Screams of children here pierce the silence of the backcountry, where they get smothered by thousands of live oaks that drip silvery-gray moss like Louisiana tinsel.
But this house of unspeakable memories is no House of Usher; it is holy and salvific. Metanoia is a place of resurrection for God’s most bullied children. It is where trauma goes to die and blood-curdling screams in the night are answered by religious sisters sent by God to love His ruthlessly hurt ones.
“Metanoia is no insane asylum,” said Fr. Jeffrey Bayhi, its founder. “It is a type of hospital of peace, built by God for His hurt angels. It is where girls, at last, learn they are loved for who they are and not for what they do.”
The eleven teenage girls living at Metanoia are escapees of human trafficking. The shelter is one of the very few homes in the United States for victims of sex slavery. It is the only safe house in the country licensed to care for children from birth to 18 years. It is not uncommon for slavery to begin at an age when children still believe in Santa Claus.
The United Nations estimates there are as many as five million slaves in the United States. It is also estimated that more than sixty percent of America’s sex slaves are juveniles trafficked by their own parents or primary caregivers.
“I know of parents who’ve taken their children out of school and into the parking lot,” Fr. Bayhi said, “where a man is waiting for them in a car for sex. A short time later, after the act is performed, the parent brings the child back to class. This is unspeakable, but it is true. This is the face of evil.
Category: Catholic Church