Browsing From the Pastor's Desk

The Hope of Haiti

Dec 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!! Welcome to the season of Advent and a new Church year, which begins today.

There’s a lot I could write about, but certainly the first thing on my mind is to say thank you… for being good to me, to each other in the parish, to the poor of Saint Louis and the world, and to the Church of Saint Louis all throughout this past year.

The second thing on my mind I’ve been putting off because I know you’ve been hit up for donations from all directions. But I can’t put it off any longer. So I’ll get to the bottom line first, and then fill in the above lines.

The St. Michel School in Haiti desperately needs the second floor put on the new building. The vocational training center is literally collapsing. The cost is $250,000. I have a donor who will give $125,000 if “I”/we can raise the other $125,000. The cost is higher than other school construction because it needs a gas stove, a modern sink, enough electricity for several sewing machines, running water and flushing toilets….all things which the rest of the school and most buildings in Boucan-Carré do not have. The girls need to be trained to use these facilities so that they can go on to be effective and efficient housekeepers, such as the alumna who has become the housekeeper for the first ever Haitian Cardinal Chibly Langlois in Cap Hatien on the north coast.

Situated in the central highlands, Boucan-Carré has been fortunate these last two years. Three major hurricanes have raked the island, one on the south coast and two on the north. The central highlands were spared. It did not help that there was a magnitude 4.3 earthquake directly under Boucan-Carré on September 17 of this year. That would be no big deal here; I was in fact awakened one night about 10 years ago by a 4.3 earthquake here. But construction techniques and materials used in older buildings in Haiti make them much more fragile and vulnerable. Even the modern well-constructed buildings in Boucan-Carré, such as St. Michel School, have visible damage from the major earthquake that hit Port au Prince, 70 miles away, in 2010. As the picture here shows from our visit last spring, there was a gaping hole in the wall of the vocational center, but now the deterioration has accelerated.

We have raised some funds from the Beyond Sunday Campaign that can be applied to our work in Haiti, but those funds come in to us slowly and are not sufficient for this project. But the bigger point is that those Beyond Sunday funds do not meet the one condition of the donor who will give us 50% of the cost. We need to raise new funds.

This donor is unbelievably generous with his treasure, time and talent to many and all kinds of charities. He goes way beyond the extra mile. He is challenging us also to go a little farther than we otherwise would.

I would not ask you if the people in Boucan-Carré were not both worthy and needy and grateful. The hope of Haiti is in the education of its children, of which there are so many.

The Sisters of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who operate the school, have put off roof repairs to their convent. The school comes first with them; the children always come first. And they are concerned about the students who have to learn in the structurally unstable vocational center.

I have no right to ask, but I do ask that you please do whatever you can and feel called to do to help our poorest neighbors in the Americas. As we heard in the Gospel last Sunday, Christ the King who will be our judge, and who knows the secrets of our hearts, will reward us for what we do or don’t do for the least of our brothers and sisters. If we are blessed, we are meant to be a blessing to those who have not. Thank you for all that you DO do already, and may you come closer every day this Advent to the real meaning of Christmas in the real person of Jesus Christ.

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