Haiti's bishops have appointed the leader of an architecture and engineering unit, which will oversee the reconstruction of church property damaged in the January 2010 earthquake.
On Dec. 16, the Haitian bishops' conference confirmed the appointment of Yves Lacourcière, a Quebec native and civil engineer with 30 years of international experience in construction, project management and economic development.
Lacourcière also holds an advanced business degree and has done doctoral work in the field of ethnology. He is married to a Haitian woman, Sherly Saint-Jean, and speaks both French and Creole in addition to Spanish.
He will serve as the director general of the agency, “Proximité Catholique avec Haïti et son Eglise,” a name that translates as “closeness to Haiti and its Church.”
The Haitian bishops formed the agency with assistance from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholics in the U.S. have donated a total of $33 million to the bishops' collection for rebuilding Haitian churches, in addition to the $50 million collected to provide aid to residents.
In the nation's capital of Port-au-Prince, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption completely caved in during the catastrophic earthquake on January 12, 2010, along with the archdiocesan headquarters. Archbishop Joseph S. Miot and Bishop Charles Benoit both died in the collapse.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the papal nuncio in Haiti, stated at the time that “all the great churches” and “all the seminaries” were destroyed by the earthquake.
Many observers noted at the time that the capital had not been built to endure an earthquake of such magnitude, resulting in higher death tolls and more severe damage to property. The government said in February that 200,000 people died in the earthquake, and one million were left homeless.
Archbishop Louis Kébreau, president of the Haitian bishops' conference, described the appointment of Lacourcière as “an important step forward in putting the necessary structures in place that will ensure that such a tragic loss of life can be avoided in the future.”
He said that the rebuilding of the Church's property would help its ministries to “respond to the needs of every Haitian.”
Foremost among those needs is relief from the impact of a growing cholera epidemic that has reportedly killed at least 2,300 people and infected more than 100,000 Haitians.