Walk With Haiti

GIFTS FOR HAITI

CLOTHES & BACKPACKS FOR HAITI

 

Help us make this a special Christmas for the children at our sister parish in Haiti, Notre Dame de Lourdes!  This year we’re collecting Backpacks and New Clothes for kids aged 6-16 – long pants and shirts for boys, skirts and blouses or dresses for girls. Please leave in boxes in the Fr. Filip Room at St. Mark or contact richardhiggins43@gmail.com or 860-767-1503.  Barrels are being shipped to Haiti in October, so please deliver items by September 27. Thanks very much for your support!

HAITI FOOD SECOND COLLECTION / CHRIST ROI


The Food for Haiti collection started in 2008 at St. Mark was a monthly collection. Since the merging of St. Mark and St. John churches to form St. Pio parish the collection became bi-monthly, however, it has resulted in an increase of funds and has allowed the program to expand. The formula for success is simple - seeing the need, hearing the call to
action and supporting it financially, this is Catholic stewardship in its simplest form. No amount is too small, thank you for your generosity!

 

The second collection funds three separate nutrition programs; Dr. Wilkens, Christ Roi, and our own twin, Notre Dame de Lourdes. The focus of this week’s article will be Christ Roi (Christ the King).
 
As many of you know ‘Outreach to Haiti’ (OTH) is a Norwich Diocesan group that oversees the parish twinning, operates its own education program as well as a medical clinic. OTH is the link between Walk with Haiti and our parish twin.  In 2010, the earthquake in Port-au-Prince leveled several of the OTH buildings. As a result, the group reorganized and consolidated its efforts in the neighborhood of Christ Roi where severe poverty thrives.
 
Their food program targets the malnourished by serving 50 children, another 12 expectant mothers and 25 families of the most needy with food kits. A food kit contains milk, rice/beans, pasta, oil, canned fish, flour, and peanut butter. Living without a steady food supply is a foreign concept to us. It’s hard to imagine a life like that and so it is satisfying to help with Haiti Food Collection at St. Pio parish. But what is the source of this satisfaction? Pope St. John Paul II wrote what he called ‘the law of the gift’ which states that our being will increase in the measure it is given away.
 
How blessed are we that have the means to bring comfort to our brother and sisters in Christ. This is what saying “yes” to Jesus looks like. It is always good to remember that God is never outdone in generosity.

HAITI FOOD SECOND COLLECTION / NOTRE DAME DE LOURDES


The Food for Haiti collection started in 2008 at St. Mark was a monthly collection. Since the merging of St. Mark and St. John churches to form St. Pio parish the collection became bi-monthly, however, it has resulted in an increase of funds and has allowed the program to expand. The formula for success is simple - seeing the need, hearing the call to action and supporting it financially, this is Catholic stewardship in its simplest form. No amount is too small, thank you for your generosity! The second collection funds three separate nutrition programs; Dr. Wilkens, Christ Roi, and our own twin, Notre Dame de Lourdes. The focus of this week’s article will be Notre Dame de Lourdes.
 
Notre Dame de Lourdes parish is located in Cite Militaire which is a section of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Like most of Haiti, it is impoverished. For more than a year the Petrocaribe scandal demonstrations have, at times, paralyzed the city through violence, causing the closure of businesses and schools. Food shortages soon followed. Last year the pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes, Fr. Anicette, said that many times desperate parishioners in need knock on his door
asking for food. You can’t give what you don’t have. As a result, our Walk With Haiti committee. set up a discretionary fund for Fr. Anicette with an allowance of $250/month. (This is separate from our education funds). A couple from St. Pio parish sponsors this effort. From there we had a foundation to build on.  Through Divine Providence, the bi-monthly second collection for food for Haiti has provided relief to our parish twin. Now in Haiti, on the first weekend of each month,  Father Anicette organizes his own food distribution. Each needy person or family is given 25lbs of rice, cooking oil, and spaghetti. It doesn’t seem like much, but it provides a lifeline to those who depend on it and there’s an old saying, "hunger is the best sauce. ”

How blessed are we that have the means to bring such comfort to our brother and sisters in Christ! This is what saying
“yes” to Jesus looks like. It is always good to remember that God is never outdone in generosity.

Haiti Food May 10 Second Collection / Dr. Wilkens

The Food for Haiti collection started in 2008 at St. Mark as a monthly collection. Since the merging of St. Mark and St. John churches to form St. Pio parish the collection became bi-monthly, however, it has resulted in an increase of funds and has allowed the program to expand. The formula for success is simple - seeing the need, hearing the call to action and supporting it financially, this is Catholic stewardship in its simplest form. No amount is too small, thank you for your generosity!

The second collection funds three separate nutrition programs; Dr. Wilkens, Christ Roi, and our own twin, Notre Dame de Lourdes. The focus of this week’s article will be Dr.Wilkens; in future weeks we will highlight the other programs.

Dr. Wilkens’ Nutritional Program:

Dr. Gilbert Wilkens exemplifies everything that is good about humanity. Nothing seems to be too hard to tackle. He is from good stock. With help from Outreach to Haiti, the (Norwich  Diocese Haitian ministry) Dr. Wilkens’ mother, Madam Samsan, began a lunch program in 1988 that eventually fed 75 children daily. This is the environment that young Gilbert grew up in, serving others. It’s been approximately ten years since Dr. Wilkens has taken over and revised the program to serve 35 families by providing ‘Food Kits’ weekly, a bit like our food pantry except that families are chosen based on a medical assessment of malnutrition. His kits are dispensed from his clinic in Delmas 60, which is an area of extreme poverty, also the place where he grew up.

I have personally met him many times and call him a friend. His perfect English makes him easy to talk to, engaging, and instantly likable. As a trained American doctor he could have chosen an easy life for his family in the United States, but instead answered the call of service to the poor. He is one of the 125 surgeons serving 12 million Haitians, a fact that is hard to comprehend. Dr. Wilkens’ other endeavors include partnering with the Hartford-based MATH (Medical Aid to Haiti) to provide a fleet of mobile medical clinic trucks. His most ambitious project to date is building a five-story medical facility in the remote outskirts of Port-au-Prince, designed by UCONN engineering students and funded by patrons across his vast network of friends. The clinic, although still under construction in phases, is up and running, and includes a full service operating theater. In comparison, the nutritional food program funded by our second collection does not seem like much, but it is a lifeline to those who depend on it and thus no less important to God. This is what saying “yes” to Jesus looks like.

Some say Dr. Wilkens is a living saint. Who can argue he is not? It is always good to remember that God is never outdone in generosity.

Since 1998 we have been involved with the diocese's Outreach to Haiti.  "Walk with Haiti" is a uniquely valuable Church Project.

In 1998, St. Mark’s parish signed a Twinning Covenant with Notre Dame de Lourdes, a parish in Cite Militaire, Port-au-Prince. This covenant binds us to support our sister parish through spiritual, educational and financial activities, to visit each other at least annually whenever possible, and to educate St. Mark parishioners about Haitian people and their culture. The Walk With Haiti committee acts as the liaison between St. Mark’s parish and our sister parish, where Fr. Anicette is the current pastor.

The diocese’s Outreach to Haiti organization acts as our agent in Haiti. They have offices in Norwich and Haiti, ensuring our money gets to where it needs to. They also maintain a “Mission House” in Port-au-Prince where we stay when we go to Haiti. Fr. Frank Rouleau is the Twinning Director.


In the past, St. Mark’s raised many thousands of dollars to build their parish center, and supply benches, chairs, a solar system and inverter, office equipment, school supplies, medical supplies, a truck and most recently, a complete water purification system. 

Our current programs are:

  • Scholarships sending 40 children from Notre Dame de Lourdes to school.

  • Monthly food collection that helps feed more than 75 children in Port-au-Prince.

  • Helping graduating students in post-secondary studies.

To make a donation, please send a check (made out to “Walk With Haiti”) to:

Walk with Haiti, St. Mark Catholic Church, 222 McVeagh Road, Westbrook, CT 06498.

 

The Walk With Haiti Committee meets monthly to discuss ongoing activities and projects. New members are always welcome.


Our twinning connection with Haiti has been uniquely valuable as a Church project – bringing together two very different cultures and languages who can communicate in the language of love and mutual respect through the celebration of the Mass, share in the one Eucharist, pray in solidarity with each other, and touch each other’s lives in deep and lasting ways.

For more information on the Walk With Haiti Ministry, please contact:

Chairman: Richard Higgins, richardhiggins43@gmail.com
Treasurer: Rachel Higgins, rachelhiggins88@gmail.com
Gift Card Orders: Mary Wilson, (860) 399-9788

ST. JOHN PARISH

161 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

Tel: (860) 388-3787

ST. MARK PARISH

222 McVeagh Road, Westbrook, CT 06498

Tel: (860) 399-9207

Parishes of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich, CT 

 

Serving the Communities of Greater Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and

Our Sister Parish, Notre Dame de Lourdes, Port Au Prince, Haiti

 

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