A reflection from Cassie Ellis
Father Len has said some people have a special place in their hearts for Haiti. In March a dedicated band of St. Roberts’ Haiti Committee members visited our sister parish La Nativite de Notre Dame in Verrettes, Haiti. We saw shining faces and took lots of photos. We sponsor 282 students there from preschool through high school at about 15 schools. It’s gratifying to see the kids grow up and grow in confidence, comparing their preschool pictures to the latest photos.
While Kristen Mahoney and I toured many of the schools and met our students, the other members of our delegation Christopher Kapral and Thomas McDonald did the arduous climb to La Navite’s parish school at Descombes. They went to see the new classrooms which were largely paid for by St. Robert’s parishioners. Descombes is the biggest parish school. Prior to building these classrooms, the 600-700 kids crowded into eight narrow classrooms.
Although we can’t sponsor all the kids at the parish schools (we sponsor about 60 kids from Descombes), St. Robert’s does provide money for a hot, nutritious school lunch to all the children most days of the school year at all four parish schools.
One day we all visited the second largest parish school, Allaire. There we saw a host of improvements like a roof over the heads of the cooks, and the food now cooked on gas stoves, not in a pot on the ground heated with charcoal. The school now has a well and rain water is diverted from flooding the grounds and buildings. Fr. Murat Dorcent is the dynamic pastor at La Nativite. We follow his leadership in all these programs and improvements.
Lent was also a good time to visit. As usual we stayed in the rectory which is right on the church grounds, a few feet away from the large two-story church. The congregations’ voices echo off the vaulted ceiling. We were able to participate in some devotionals, the Stations of the Cross and the Exposition of the Holy Sacrament. Attendance was good and the singing was terrific. There was a banner hanging on the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy. And I saw more than one tee-shirt with a likeness of Pope Francis.
Fr. Murat made a special point of thanking St. Robert’s at Sunday Mass, and as the chair of our committee, Chris responded at Mass just as he would in Michigan about being a good Catholic.
On Saturday, about 140 kids from the sponsor program attended our meeting in town and composed letters for their sponsors. We returned with new photos and letters from nearly all the kids at the meeting. All the letters and photos have been mailed out to our wonderful sponsors.
To sponsor a student send either $200 for a primary child or $400 for secondary (grades 7-13). Mail your contribution to the parish office or put it in the collection basket. Mark “Sponsor a Student” on the ledger line. Let us know if you wish to pay monthly or in some other way. I will pick out a darling and deserving child for you and send you their photo, age, grade, and any other info that I have. The money pays for tuition, books and uniforms.
About 1200 students receive lunch per day. St. Robert’s also collects for the lunch program and other special projects.
Your support and generosity is a real blessing. Thank you! Through the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, St. Robert’s has been matched with la Nativite de Notre Dame in Verrettes, Haiti for over 20 years.
Cassie Ellis (616) 437-3706 firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris Kapral (616) 915.2941 email@example.com