78-year-old Sydney priest to walk an incredible 740 kilometres on the Camino

19 May 2017
Fr Jim on the Camino. Image: Supplied.

In September 2017 Jim Carty​, a 78-year-old Marist priest from Sydney, plans to walk an incredible 740 kilometres on the Camino in France, raising awareness of the plight of more than 10 million people world-wide who are stateless, (3.5 million in Thailand alone).

Through sponsorship he will also be raising money to help create a safe future for Wilai, a vulnerable, young Thai girl, who is an orphan and stateless, and other girls who are in similar circumstances.

Follow – You can follow Jim, on his journey; support him and sponsor him on the website: www.walkforwilai.com.au

About Statelessness

Today at least 10 million people world-wide are stateless, 3.5 million are in Thailand alone. “Stateless” means they don’t belong anywhere. Statelessness is a significant human rights challenge, as it is both a product and a cause of other human rights problems.

Contributing factors to statelessness are:

  • Gender or racial discrimination;
  • neglect of children’s rights;
  • marginalization of minority groups;
  • or a break-down in the rule of law;
  • the fact that in some countries women cannot pass their nationality on to their children.

Where a person is left stateless, this can then cause or be a catalyst for a wide range of other human rights violations, including:

  • lack of access to socio-economic rights;
  • infringements of the enjoyment of family life;
  • restrictions on free movement;
  • arbitrary detention; persecution;
  • lack of access to education and health care;
  • being unable to marry and lack of job opportunities during their lifetime
  • even the dignity of an official burial and a death certificate when they die.

Many pass on the curse of statelessness on to their children, who then pass it on to the next generation. The irony is that these people find themselves stateless through no fault of their own, and in most cases their condition could be resolved through minor changes in existing laws and the adherence to the laws the United Nations have all agreed to.

About Fr Jim

James Patrick Carty was ordained a Marist Priest at St Patrick’s Church, Sydney in 1963. For the next seven years Jim taught in Marist High Schools and was then appointed to the Japanese Mission in Nara Prefecture in 1971 where he worked as a missionary for fifteen years.

In 1979, following the end of the war in Vietnam, Jim and with the cooperation of UNHCR, Caritas Japan and the Nara Prefectural Government Jim established a refugee camp on part of a property belonging to the Marist Fathers in a place called Kuzu. The initial plan was for two years but the need continued and remained open for a total of six years.

In 1986 Jim attended The School of Applied Theology in Berkeley and acquired a Master’s degree.  1987 saw Jim join the team at Interaid (an NGO based in Hong Kong), working with refugees, the physically and intellectually challenged and the marginalised in South East Asia and South Asia.

From 1990 to 1994 he was director of the Marist Mission Centre, an accredited Overseas Aid Agency.   For the six years following 1995, Jim was leader of the Marist Province of Australia and Japan. During this time, he was invited by ACFOA to join the Task Force mandated to prepare a Code of Ethics for the Australian NGO community.

In 2002 at the request of Caritas Australia and the three Marist Provincials of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, Jim visited most of the Refugee Camps in mainland Australia and unofficially Manus and Nauru, and prepared a report on the conditions in them.

From 2003 to 2009 Jim was appointed Executive Officer of the House of Welcome a Drop-in Centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Carramar.

In 2010 Jim was Chaplain to the camps on Christmas Island, later accepting the role of Manager with CatholicCare Sydney for Prison and Hospital Chaplains and Tree of Hope.

In 2013 Jim walked the Camino for the first time.

Currently Jim is the Director of MARS (Marist Asylum-seekers and Refugee Service) a small NGO; that provides pastoral care in Villawood Detention Centre; sacramental service for the Sudanese Community in Blacktown and frequently masses and reconciliation ministry at St Patrick’s Church Hill.

He is also co-founder and Director of the Wilai Foundation Ltd.

The Wilai Foundation Ltd.

The Wilai Foundation is a registered Australian Charity seeking to raise awareness of statelessness (the consequences and solutions) and offer support to stateless, orphan girls in Thailand and Myanmar.

The establishment of the Wilai Foundation Ltd. was inspired by Wilai (a Thai name that means “perfectly beautiful”), a young girl who was both an orphan and stateless, living in Thailand.

Whilst most registered charities focus on taking care of the Village, we at the Wilai Foundation are taking a different approach, as we seek to be the Village for Wilai and other stateless, orphan girls in Thailand and Myanmar.


To quote Pope Francis’ paraphrasing of Mother Teresa: “It’s a drop in the ocean, but after this drop the ocean will never be the same again.”

Further information

Jo Shears (Co-founder and Director) Wilai Foundation


(61) 0414 921 499

Fr Jim Carty  (Co-founder and Director) Wilai Foundation


(61) 0477 691 223

www.wilaifoundation.org.au  and www.walkforwilai.com.au

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