Hope for Haiti

Gathering to Highlight Opportunities for Partnership and Empowerment in Haiti

September 12, 2011

On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 rocked Haiti. When the dust settled, 230,000 people were dead, 300,000 were injured and an estimated one million Haitians were left homeless. The people of Haiti continue to reel from the devastation of the earthquake and its aftershocks, as well as hurricanes and a cholera epidemic that followed.

The Archdiocese of Washington is continuing to work to help in the rebuilding of the country. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, is encouraging more parishes in the archdiocese to develop “twinning” relationships. The “Hope for Haiti Gathering” at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Silver Spring features a day-long conference for parishes that currently twin in Haiti to help grow and strengthen their relationship, as well as those parishes interested in learning more about twinning.

Saturday, September 24, 2011
11:00 a.m.
St. John the Baptist Church
12319 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD

The “Hope for Haiti Gathering” will highlight opportunities for partnership and empowerment in the impoverished country. Topics at the conference will include medical missions; water and sanitation issues; building and operating schools; electricity and internet availability; microfinance, banking and sustainable projects; and empowering Haitians to advance justice. Fr. Yves Arnould Gattereau from St. Pierre parish in Baraderes, Haiti, which twins with the St. John the Baptist parish, also will be in attendance at the gathering to give his perspective. The event will conclude with a Mass at 5:00 p.m. celebrated by Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Archdiocese of Washington has had a long twinning relationship with the Diocese of Jérémie in Haiti. Currently, 14 parishes and ministries in the Archdiocese of Washington have twinning relationships with parishes in Haiti. Following the earthquake, local parishioners donated more than $1.3 million to Catholic Relief Services for Haitian relief. With the goal of strengthening partnerships and supporting the long-term goals of Haitian communities, Catholic Relief Services has just awarded two of 11 grants to parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington for use in Haiti. The projects focus on activities that will stimulate local economies, provide vocational training, encourage entrepreneurial enterprise or improve basic services such as water and sanitation.

The support continues through the parishes. The Church of the Resurrection in Burtonsville parish has been twinned with Notre Dame Lachandleur parish in Gros-Morne, Haiti since 2002, and has helped to build two churches and a school. The parish of the Church of the Resurrection is one of the recent recipients of a $10,000 grant from Catholic Relief Services to be used for the implementation of the “Hens for Haiti” project, which is a student organization developed to help establish and support an egg-laying facility in Gros-Morne. After extensive construction and training, the volunteers will go to Haiti next month to finish the electricity installation and hand over the financials to the local management. The project will provide nutrition, fertilization and employment to the region. The project is expected to be self-sustaining after the first year.

Since 1987, St. Francis of Assisi parish in Derwood, MD has been twinned with St. Paul’s of the Conversion parish in Leon, Haiti. The St. Francis of Assisi parish has recently been awarded a $10,000 grant from Catholic Relief Services to help establish better sanitation in the village marketplace to help address the cholera epidemic in the Leon area. A collection is taken up four times a year at the St. Francis of Assisi parish to support the twin parish. The money collected is used to fund projects that are decided upon by the Haiti Committee in consultation with the pastor and pastoral counsel of St. Paul’s. The funds have subsidized the teachers’ salaries at the parish school, Bon Pasteur, to make a quality education affordable to as many children as possible. In addition, individual parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi have sponsored 140 children whose families were unable to afford to pay the reduced tuition at the school. The St. Francis of Assisi parish has also helped to build a second school building with a computer classroom. The computers will be donated by St. Francis of Assisi parishioners.

Blessed Sacrament parish in northwest Washington is working with its twin parish in building a large clinic in Jean-Rabel. The first section is set to be complete by year’s end. As the clinic develops, Blessed Sacrament parishioners will travel to Haiti with doctors and nurses. The Blessed Sacrament parish is also interested in building a vocational school for boys. Fundraising is currently underway for both projects.

At the St. Teresa of Avila parish in southeast Washington, a twinning relationship has been in place since 2006. It began with a mission trip to the town of Jérémie. While on the trip, the St. Teresa of Avila parishioners attended Mass and met with the parish finance council of St. Antoine parish in the Diocese of Jérémie. The pastor mentioned he would like to be able to build an addition to the church where the students in Pre-K to third grade could be housed. At the time, those students were attending classes in the church itself. St. Teresa of Avila parishioners raised just under $20,000. On their return trip to Haiti in 2007, the building was complete. Students were in their classes, a dispensary was also incorporated and plans were in the works for a play area. In the last five years, school supplies, uniforms, books and sports equipment have been donated. The St. Teresa of Avila parish has established “Project EACH” or “Educate A Child In Haiti.” A $100 donation to this project will send a child in Haiti to school for a year, covering their lunch, books and the salary of their teacher.

This twinning relationship also has a medical component as well. In coordination with the St. Francis of Assisi parish, medical clinics have been established, with people arriving who have never before seen a doctor or nurse. The school now has a nurse to serve the school and also to help treat the people in the town of Jérémie and a manual is being created to help with common medical ailments to train healthcare workers. They are also working to move towards preventive medicine.

The Jesus the Good Shepherd parish in Owings, MD is now working on building classrooms in their twin parish in Pointe Sable, Haiti, after a delegation from the Global Twinning Committee for the Archdiocese of Washington traveled to Pointe-Sable in June to observe the conditions. The delegation has determined that the students need a better learning environment after seeing the students holding classes in the church.

At the St. Mary parish in Barnesville, MD, a medical mission to Haiti is planned for October, in which four doctors and three nurses will serve about one thousand people in a week as part of an annual mission. The committee from St. Mary has built a school and supports the teachers, and is also in the process of building a rectory and a community center with their twin parish, St. Joseph parish in Carcasse. The group is also working on a project to export coffee.

Registration for the “Hope for Haiti Gathering” is available day-of at 10:00 a.m. or in advance by clicking here..

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics living in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Brie Hall
Office of Communications
[email protected]