Catholic Free Press

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  • Dec
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Parishes raise funds for people in Haiti

Posted By December 4, 2014 | 5:17 pm | Lead Story #3

By Christina Galeone

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. More than two million of them are children. Despite the dire circumstances, many of them still smile, dream and hope for a brighter future. This weekend, two local parishes are holding fun holiday fundraisers to help these children hold on to that hope.
Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m., the Youth Ministry at Saint Luke the Evangelist Parish in Westborough will hold its annual Jingle Bell Run. The festive one-mile run/walk starts at the church’s parish center at 1 Ruggles St. and will end there for some refreshments. For a $20 on-site registration fee and a suggested donation of a child’s new T-shirt, participants of all ages can help the children of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (meaning Our Little Brothers and Sisters in English) orphanage in Haiti. Run by Passionist priest and physician Father Rick Frechette, the orphanage is one of several NPH homes that provide Christian care, education and encouragement for orphaned, abandoned and at-risk children in impoverished areas of the world. St. Luke’s Haiti outreach ministry also supports St. Damien’s Pediatric Hospital. Founded by Father Frechette, it’s the only hospital in Haiti that provides free care.
Gloria Josephs, director of Youth Ministry at St. Luke’s, is the organizer of the event. It supports children who are very close to her heart.
“In 2002, our former pastor, Father George Lange, accepted an invitation by Father Rick to come to Haiti. We made the journey together, and he too realized the need for our support of Father Rick’s endeavors to make life better for the children … ,” said Mrs. Josephs. She added, “Our parishioners have been extremely supportive and generous.”
Mrs. Josephs is grateful that the parish supports the children, who changed her life when she traveled to Haiti for the first time in 1999. She said, “When the some 500 children greeted me in Kenscoff, I was overwhelmed. A visitor was well received, because that meant help was here. Someone cared; someone came to love them. I met the most amazing people – volunteers from all over the world – who came to help and never left, because they could not leave behind these beautiful children.”
Like St. Luke’s, St. Mark’s Parish, located at 356 Boston Road in Sutton, is also committed to helping Haiti’s most vulnerable citizens. Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., the church will hold its annual Gingerbread Fair in its hall. As part of Sutton’s Chain of Lights, the event will feature holiday music, food, games, face painting, raffles, wreaths and handmade items. One new festivity that will benefit the church’s Haiti Mission is authentic Haitian hair braiding. A native of Haiti will be available to provide this unique service.
Lois Kolofsky, a parishioner at St. Mark’s, said the church’s mission supports Foyer St. Etienne, a nursing home in Les Cayes, Haiti that cares for 40 impoverished elderly residents. Mrs. Kolofsky, who has also traveled to Haiti and witnessed the abject poverty there, said that although the Oblates of Mary Immaculate originally supported the home, “they were struggling and needed financial assistance, so St. Mark’s parishioners answered the call and stepped in to help.”
Later, the parish decided to expand its ministry to include children.
Mrs. Kolofsky said, “In addition to supporting the nursing home, our St. Mark’s Parish Haiti Ministry saw another dire need and created a student sponsorship program, Teach the Children, with the goal of getting Haitian youth off the streets and into school. We believe education is the path out of poverty, benefitting the lives of the students and their families.”
Despite the frightening living conditions Haiti’s innocent children must face every day, these two parishes, along with others, are making a difference in their lives. Wrapped in the true Christmas Spirit, they are giving the children the chance to smile, dream and hope for a brighter future. People who would like to help them nurture that hope can attend either – or both – of the fun holiday events. They can also visit the Diocese of Worcester Haitian Apostolate Ministry at www.haitianapostolate.org .