Early this week, a delegation of Catholic bishops from the U.S. toured Port-au-Prince, the recently-devastated capital of Haiti. During their stay, the prelates visited the Louverture Cleary School, a tuition-free, Catholic, co-ed, secondary boarding school for under-privileged Haitian children.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez, and other members of the U.S. delegation, were accompanied by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to Haiti. Together, the bishops toured and surveyed the damage to the city, in an effort to determine how to best spend the money that U.S. Catholics donated following the country's earthquake.
The bishops stopped at the Louverture Cleary School (LCS), which is run by The Haitian Project (THP), a charity founded in the early 1980’s by St. Joseph's Parish in Providence, R.I., to assist the people of Haiti.
“I believe it added an opportunity to see the hope in Haiti,” Deacon Patrick Moynihan, THP’s president told CNA.
Deacon Moynihan also writes a weekly column, "Both Oars In," for CNA.
According to the Boston Globe, Deacon Moynihan met the delegation after they celebrated an early morning Mass with the Daughters of Mary, a religious order who lost 15 sisters when the quake leveled their house. He then showed the bishops around the school, which suffered minimal damage during the massive earthquake. Two buildings need extensive repairs, and the other buildings will have modifications to help cope with the increased seismic activity following the earthquake, explained Deacon Moynihan. Four fallen wall sections also need to be replaced, but the school is in a position where it can help the surrounding community.
“We are aware that being left standing means that we are to commit more deeply to our mission of producing gifted, civic minded leaders for Haiti. Our school model has always been: We are ready to rebuild Haiti. We know what we were being prepared to do,” said the deacon.
The delegation also toured the surrounding neighborhood. “We wanted the Cardinal and Archbishop to see that we are a village--like a community around a monastery,” said Deacon Moynihan. He noted that he showed the delegation the site where THP is “ replacing a mud house with a concrete house--the original house was damaged in the quake.
“We will be doing at least 10 housing projects, some repairs and some full rebuilds. This is part of dedication to the community and service.”
The prelates, accompanied by the deacon, then visited the graves of Archbishop Joseph Miot and Fr. Charles Benoit, the vicar general of Port-au-Prince, who were killed during the earthquake. Deacon Moynihan pointed out that the lettering on Archbishop Miot’s tomb was done by a THP volunteer, Kristin Zeiler.
After the visit, Cardinal O'Malley promised to tell Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence, that THP is “doing a great job.”
For more information about The Haitian Project, visit: http://www.haitianproject.org/