Dayton, OH Parish Building the Church in Haiti
Every Friday we share one of the stories from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s “One Faith, One Hope, One Love” campaign — the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s largest capital campaign in 60 years. For more information about the campaign and how it will be used, see the links at the bottom of the page.
Building Hope in Haiti
by Paul Clark
The One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign is about building the Church. In some cases that mission is literal.
Last fall, the people of St. Jude’s parish in Haiti raised the roof on a new church building, four years after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation. That building, in the Delmas section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, offers a visible sign of the Church’s resilience in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.
St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Dayton, a sister parish to St. Jude’s, has contributed continuing financial and hands-on assistance to relieving the effects of poverty in that Haitian community. St Henry volunteers who’ve traveled there include Joyce Wirtz, who with her husband Bill serves as co-chair of St. Henry’s major-gifts division for One Faith, One Hope, One Love.
Joyce and another St. Henry parishioner, Colleen Thompson, visited the Haitian parish last fall as part of a medical mission. Both are pediatric nurses at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
The team, which included volunteers from Indiana and Pennsylvania, worked from a makeshift clinic in the church building, as plans for a permanent, local-staffed clinic and pharmacy have yet to be completed.
“We saw over a thousand patients,” Joyce said. “Some of them walked two miles to be seen.”
The children were treated for a range of problems common to their poverty: malnutrition, parasites, various gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension.
The lack of material substance was striking even in small ways. One father, asked whether he’d eaten, responded matter-of-factly about his family rations: “It’s not my day to eat.”
But the charitable giving went both ways.
“We can learn from them,” Joyce said. “These people have nothing, truly nothing, but they have everything. They’re giving people, loving people, happy people, faith-filled people.
“They dress for church even though it’s hot. They don’t have material things, and we can give them that.”
The Haitian parish is named for the patron saint of lost causes, but their prospects are improving.
To assist beyond the immediate needs, St. Henry’s is dedicating part of its parish portion of the One Faith, One Hope, One Love contributions to helping with construction of a trade school at St. Jude’s. Haiti has no public schools.
In the meantime, St. Henry’s is receiving inestimable benefits in return.
“It was a life-changing spiritual experience for us in Haiti,” Joyce said. “I could never fully describe it.”
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