Standing with Haiti
Standing with Haiti, a project of St Anthony’s Parish, is devoted to being a part of enhancing the lives of the people of Ste. Anne de Hyacynthe Parish in Haiti. We believe in the power of a relationship, built on mutual respect, collaborative dialogue, and participating in Haitian cultural norms. Through our relationship, we will come to understand the important and immediate needs of Ste. Anne’s School and the local parish community, which will guide Standing with Haiti’s distribution of resources. Our goal is to enable sustainable change with a long-term impact, and to leverage local talent and resources whenever possible.
2019/2020 Executive Committee
Chairperson: Dr. Gary German
Coordinator of Communications: Michele Jackson
Coordinator of Fundraising: Jane Wraith and Tim Searing
Coordinator of Visitations: Joe Schreiber
Coordinator of Recruitment: Tim Searing
Recording Secretary: Vangie Lim
What is a Twin Parish?
Often referred to as a “Sister Parish”, twinning is a partnering of American parishes with Haitian parishes.
The primary goal of a twinning relationship is this: To help Haitians help Haitians.
There are presently 14 partnerships with parishes in the US through Outreach to Haiti. St. Anthony in Renton is the only parish West of the Rockies currently involved in a twinning relationship.
What is Outreach to Haiti?
Outreach to Haiti is a sponsored ministry of the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut.
The Diocese of Norwich is itself twinned with the Diocese of Port au Prince. Their covenant was signed in December of 2000.
In addition to the Twinning program, there are also programs for education, health care, a feeding program, and community development to support Haitians in need.
How did St. Anthony’s establish this relationship?
The Catholic Faith Formation Department of the Archdiocese conducted an assessment of the Faith Formation programs at St. Anthony’s Parish in 2009.
The results of the assessment indicated that a large parish such as ours was lacking in not having a connection to a parish beyond our borders.
In January of 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. Our Parish family learned that the granddaughter of parishioners John and Annette Hightower, who was doing Volunteer Mission work in Haiti, was killed in the earthquake. Molly Hightower, 22 years old, was volunteering for one year in Haiti with Friends of the Orphans. She was a graduate of Bellarmine High School and the University of Portland. Our parish felt deeply the Hightower family’s loss of Molly. Her mission in Haiti, coupled with our call to partner with a parish outside of our borders served to inspire our eventual involvement there. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere was now even further devastated by the death and destruction of the terrible earthquake.
St. Anthony Parish would find a way to help in Haiti.
To begin the process of establishing a long-term relationship with another parish, Fr. Gary Zender met with the JustFaith Team (a ministry promoting an understanding of the Catholic Social Teachings), the Pastoral Council, school leaders, Parish groups, staff, and Archdiocesan Officials. They explored the feasibility of embarking on such a project, and in June of 2012. Fr. Gary and the Pastoral Council Chair attended The One Table Conference in Washington D.C., under the auspices of the Catholic Relief Services.
There they met with Haitian Bishops and clergy, and Fr. Frank Rouleau with Outreach to Haiti, a Catholic organization that facilitates a Parish Twinning process. With hearts open to the Master’s Word, the guidance of Outreach and with the leadership of the JustFaith Team, St. Anthony’s relationship and Covenant with a sister Parish in Haiti began to take shape.
The first delegation of travelers to Haiti from St. Anthony was in October 2012. The Haitian Bishop assigned two parishes from the Archdiocese of Port au Prince to our team. Our delegation was to visit both parishes, then begin a prayerful discernment process upon returning home. The entire delegation felt a calling to Ste. Anne de Hyacynthe, which ultimately became our twinned parish.
Who is Ste. Anne de Hyacynthe Parish?
Our twin parish is located outside of Port au Prince, just 5 km up a very rugged mountain road from the town of Petit Goave, about 60 km west of Port au Prince via a coastal road. At the top of the mountain lies the village of Hyacinth. Ste. Anne Parish serves the Catholic community there and has four outlying chapels, each about two-hours distance from the church. The parish serves about 7,000 Catholics, and staffs a school, grades 1 through 9, with a Principal and several lay teachers. The pastor is Pe (Fr.) Josue Seide, who was assigned to the parish in 2010.
The earthquake of 2010 had flattened all of the buildings, including the church, which was 100 years old. All that remains is a flat concrete slab that was once the foundation. The church is contained in a temporary structure with a tin roof on wooden beams, which covers wood benches acquired from Caritas International, a Catholic organization founded to assist in nearly every country in times of emergency and crisis. The rectory was built after the earthquake. It is a solid four-room building, which lacks electricity and plumbing, like the rest of the village.
Pe Josue serves the community not only as their priest, but also as doctor, judge, advocate, and advisor to the people, as these services are absent in the village of Hyacynthe. There are no jobs or employment other than the subsistence farming that provides food to the people. When that is not enough, they go hungry. The needs are many at our Sister parish, but their faith is great. They are materially poor, but spiritually rich.
On September 9, 2016, Ste. Anne’s opened new school building near the current facility. The building was made possible by a grant from the Digicel Foundation in Haiti. Prior to the opening of the new facility, the school was housed in the temporary structure that contains the present church.
What is our covenant with Ste. Anne’s?
To strengthen the relationships of friendship between our two parishes so that we may each enrich one another’s human and spiritual lives.
To encourage prayer and other types of exchanges for one another in our parishes and families.
That our two parishes will use whatever means are possible and suitable to enrich the lives and faith of our people, especially sharing of pastoral experience and programs.
To encourage the faithful of each parish to visit each other whenever possible and offer our gifts, talents, service, and love to one another.
To commit ourselves to a joint committee dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between our two peoples and to assure that this covenant grows in meaning and effectiveness.
To review and renew this covenant every three/five years.
How is this Ministry Funded?
Standing with Haiti is a major Mission effort of St. Anthony Parish, and is funded through generous donations from parishioners.
We hold an Annual Fundraiser Dinner each year to raise the funds needed for material support for Ste. Anne’s Parish.
How do we support Ste. Anne Parish?
Our two parishes support each other spiritually through prayer, communication, and annual visits.
Pastor’s vehicle: We provide funding for a driver, maintenance, and fuel for the vehicle.
Teacher’s salaries: We provide for the salaries of the teachers and Principal of Ste. Anne’s School, grades 1-9.
School Feeding Program: We have purchased propane stove, cooking utensils and dishes for the school and parish;
all made possible by Rice Bowl Grants from the Archdiocese of Seattle.
St. Anthony Parish also funds the meals, which are provided for school children, teachers, and cooks on school days.
School Uniforms: We provide funds for uniforms for students at Ste. Anne School.
We provide funding for textbooks for students at Ste. Anne School.
Our funding provided a cistern for the new school building, opened in September 2016.
Other material support we have provided: Shoes, socks, and notebooks for school children, rosaries for parishioners, printer and computer.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, St. Anthony held a special collection.
Funds were sent to Pe Josue which enabled him to provide needed relief to the people and parish of Ste. Anne.
Ste. Anne Pastor Visits to St. Anthony Parish:
Prayer for the People of Haiti
Out of the depths we cry to You, o God.
We cry to you for our Haitian sisters and brothers.
We thank you for upholding them in their suffering.
Give them continuing strength and comfort.
Give us love and courage to stand with them and work with them
As they struggle for justice and freedom.
Keep us committed to the truth, and empower us with Your Spirit of love:
A love that always sees possibilities for peace founded on justice;
A love that seeks justice without vengeance and retaliation;
A love that reaches out to enemies as Jesus taught us.
We trust in Your continuing mercy as we bring to you our own desire
to be in active solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters.
(Sung) O Lespri Sen desaan sou nou; nou gen youn mission pou Ayiti.
(Translation: O Holy Spirit descend on us: we have a mission for Haiti.)