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Friends in Haiti

Building relationships is THE MOST important aspect of our twinning partnership with St. Joseph in Pendus, Haiti.  We have made many, many lasting friendships in Haiti over our many years of this relationship.  The following are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our many friends in Haiti.  The ones featured here all have had critical roles in facilitating our many visits from Lafayette to Pendus.


Father Sylvio Jean

Father Sylvio Jean is the fourth priest for St. Joseph Church since our twinning relationship began in 1999 taking over as pastor of St. Joseph in mid-2013. He will be the first priest permanently stationed at St. Joseph since it became its own parish no longer being part of the larger parish in Gros Morne (a much bigger city about 10 miles away from Pendus).

Father Sylvio was born in Cap Haitien on December 27, 1959 the oldest of five siblings. He was ordained a Montfort priest on April 28, 1996. Before being assigned to St. Joseph in Pendus, Father Sylvio has worked in Gros Morne, Jean Rabel, Nassau Bahamas, Peru, and Port-au-Prince.



Father Joseph Telcin

Father Joseph Telcin is the third priest for St Joseph Church in Pendus since the twinning relationship with St. Mary Cathedral was started in 1999. Father Joseph was born in Haiti on October 11, 1974 -- the oldest of seven siblings . . . having two sisters and four brothers. He was ordained a Montfort priest on April 15, 2007. He started his vocation as a priest in the northwest part of Haiti. He was actually a deacon with Father Ronel Charelus in the St. Louis de Nord area for a year. He then came to the Gros Morne area in 2009. He fell in love with people of Pendus and its six chapels and took over that area in late 2010.

Father Cha Cha was the first priest in our twinning relationship with Pendus. Father Wilner Donecia then took over from mid 2004 through 2010. Given the mountains and strenuous hikes needed to reach all the chapel areas of Pendus, Father Wilner said "I have one knee that can't go up the mountain and one knee that can't go down. This is a young man's territory!" St. Mary Cathedral has been blessed to have all three of these men so passionately involved with us throughout the years!




Father Wilner Donecia

Father Wilner was born in northern Haiti on December 28, 1950. He was ordained a Montfortian priest on April 25, 1982 and has been assigned to Gros Morne and Pendus beginning in July, 2004. Previously to that he was director of Caritas in Port-de-Paix from 1994-2004 and assigned to St. Louis de Nord from 1986-1994. He has already made three visits to St. Mary Cathedral in Lafayette.


Father Ronel  "Cha Cha" Charelus

Father Cha Cha -- as he is lovingly called by all -- was born in the northwest part of Haiti in 1958. He was ordained a Montfortian priest on December 28, 1992. Father Cha Cha was the priest for St Joseph Church when St. Mary Cathedral began twinning in 1999. He made a visit to Lafayette in August 1999 and St. Mary made it's first trip to Pendus in March 2000. After leaving Pendus, he was reassigned to St. Louis de Nord from July 2004 to July 2007. He then moved to New York City where he is currently a priest at St. Bridget Church and attending theology classes working on a Master's degree.


Sister Jackie Picard

Born in Rhode Island, Sister Jackie's order is the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) and she is a nurse. Before moving to Haiti in September 1997, Sister Jackie did extensive work in elderly nursing homes and was the director of a temporary medical shelter for homeless people with AIDS. Now living at Kay Se (Sisters' House) in Gros Morne, she helps coordinate the many missionaries that come to the Gros Morne area, often serving as an interpreter for them as well. She also is in charge of the formation for incoming Haitian candidates for RJM and is a member of the Board of Director for the local hospital, Alma Mater. She also facilitates getting local patients to and from Port-au-Prince for specialty medical services not available in Gros Morne.


Tiden (on right)

Tiden is both a mechanic by trade and a driver extraordinaire for Sister Jackie and Sister Pat. While he will drive anywhere in Haiti, one of his main tasks is to get folks to and from Port-au-Prince. He lives in Gros Morne and also runs a restaurant-night club called the Beach House. He has a heart of gold and is always helping others in need. He has especially taken great care of each of St. Mary's groups to visit Pendus. His skill as a mechanic has often come in handy on various of those trips!


Madam Marcel Garson

Madam Marcel is a wonderful nurse's aide  that runs the dispensary in Pendus.  She lives in Gros Morne and rides a tap-tap (the public form or transportation in Haiti) to Pendus each Monday and back on Friday (unless she has patients she is tending to in Pendus). She also arranges all the meals for each group to travel to Pendus. Her energy, enthusiasm, love for others and smile are all a gift to everyone she encounters. Because of her love and concern for all in Pendus, we often refer to her as Mama Pendus (or Mother of Pendus).


Fritzner Guerrier

Born October 3, 1981, Fritzner was the third of five children. His mother died when he was eight years old and he was living in an orphanage when he first met Father Bob Klemme in Port-au-Prince. His ability to speak some English was what caught Father Bob's attention when they first met. With Father Bob's help and support, Fritzner has been able to complete his schooling and has been an interpreter for every team that St Mary has sent to Pendus.  He is the proud father of little Fritzner, born December 25, 2004 and Stacey, born Dec 27, 2009. He married Marline Louis on January 2, 2011 in a ceremony presided by Father Bob Klemme and Father Calixte Hilaire at Jesus the Merciful One, located outside Petionville. Twenty five of his American friends were also able to attend that wedding. He and his family live in Port-au-Prince. Fritzner was able to make his first visit to the United States, coming to Lafayette in May, 2010.


Sergo Castin (center)

Born April 15, 1980 in Petionville, Sergo is the fifth of eight siblings (four boys and four girls). Sergo was a translator for Teams 2-10 from St Mary before leaving for the Catholic University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. He graduated in December 2006 with a degree in Diplomacy and in International Services. While looking for work in his chosen field, he once again lives in Port-au-Prince and is available as an interpreter for St. Mary and other groups.  Sergo was married to Betty on December 5, 2009 and they are the proud parents of Barry Marc Castin, born August 23, 2010.


Pierre "Octa" Roody

Born July 6, 1979 in Duval, Haiti, Octa is one of seven brothers and sisters (5 boys and 2 girls). Initially sponsored by Father Bob Klemme, Octa began interpreting for St. Mary's groups in December 2003 and has done so for each trip thereafter. He is studying accounting, marketing and finance at Universite de Manadement et de Productiviite in Port-au-Prince and has about one more year to complete before graduating.


Jean Claude Alexis

Jean Claude is the caretaker for St. Joseph Church and compound area. Jean Claude married in 2011 and is the proud father of a son, also named Jean Claude, who was born later in 2011. In addition to his new family, he also lives with his mother and several extended family members just down the hill behind the St. Joseph Church property in Pendus. He also plays both the tambour (Haitian drum) and keyboard during Mass.


Barak (far right)

Barak is a mechanic by trade and works for the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) and Tiden, who trained him as a mechanic, in Gros Morne. He also in instrumental in providing for the transportation needs of Sister Jackie and Sister Pat as well as getting people to and from Port-au-Prince.


Sister Pat Dillon

Born in Bronx, New York, Sister Pat worked for 24 years for Northwest Bronx community and clergy coalition before moving to Haiti in February 1998. Her main activities include working with the parish Caritas and in agroforestry with the local farmers. She has transformed the hillside at Kay Se into a working model for forestry and other agricultural activities -- a true showcase for others to see and learn from. She also is the assistant director for the formation center at Gripen and helps in translating reports and obtaining funding for the local parish schools.


Father Jean-Jacques Nesly

Also a Montfortian priest, Father Nesly is the principal for Jean XXIII High School in Gros Morne. He was the visionary in the expansion of facilities built in 2000 -- now a beautiful two-story building with classrooms and cafeteria for over 300 students. He also was instrumental in making Jean XXIII a community fixture as well since it also has a cyber cafe, phone center, soccer field and outdoor basketball court -- complete with lights.  He was also instrumental in directing the foundation of a kindergarten and the beginning of an elementary school on the Jean XXIII campus.  Father Nesly lives at Kay Pe in Gros Morne and helps as a DJ for Radio la Chandeleur


Sister Mary Finnick (on left)

Born Feb. 12, 1933 in Lowell, Mass., Sister Mary entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1950. She taught primary grades from 1953-56 and entered nursing school from 1957-1960 and graduate work at Catholic University in 1963. Over the years she has worked as nursing director or taught at Temple University, Wedener College, D'Youville College and the State University of Buffalo School of Nursing before retiring in 2000. She then was parish nurse in Atlanta for Grey Nun Mother for 3 1/2 years before moving to Haiti in August 2005. She first worked at Hospice St. Joseph and now is the director at Matthew 25 Guest House for the Parish Twinning Program of America. Her duties include scheduling for the many groups that stay at Matthew 25, driving to and from the airport, maintaining the building, selling artwork and her most recent accomplishment -- fundraising from the many missionaries that visit Matthew 25 to purchase a much-needed new vehicle.


James Metellus

James Metellus was born in 1984 and was raised in Petionville, Haiti, James, graduated with an associates degree in Water Management from a small college in Wisconsin. He later was hired by Gift of Water to help be a liaison between sponsor groups (such as St. Mary Cathedral) and the technicians in the community (in our case in Pendus). His English skills have also been very helpful as an interpreter for our most recent trips to Haiti.


Ives Vernet and Jacson Amilcar

Ives is the principal of the St. Joseph School in Pendus.  Jacson, son of Francios Amilcar, the St. Joseph church sacristan, is currently in the seminary preparing to become a priest.


Serge Fortune

Serge Fortune was born January 5, 1988. The youngest of 10 children, his family home was immediately next to the St. Joseph compound in Pendus. He quickly became a fixture with each group from St. Mary Cathedral that visited Pendus. Because of this, he learned to speak English. His proficiency has improved so much that his is now one of the interpreters for each of our visits to St Joseph and surrounding chapels. Beginning with several post-earthquake medical teams, he has now also interpreted for others groups as well. Serge lives in Port-au-Prince and narrowly escaped to safety when the wall collapsed in his room during the January 2010 earthquake.



Rubenn "Benedict" Remy

Known to all by his nickname Benedict, Rubenn Remy was nine years old when St. Mary began coming to Pendus in 2000. At that time, his mother had recently passed away and he was living with his grandmother in Pendus. The Newell family embraced him as part of their family and began sponsoring him for school -- from St. Joseph School in Pendus, to Jean XXIII in Gros Morne and finally to Grand College Humanisme in Port-au-Prince.

He loves music and has quickly become very good at playing both the saxophone and guitar as well as being a wonderful vocalist. He often entertains not only the St. Mary groups that visit, but also others at each of his schools, churches, and communities.

He learned English well enough to also help out as an interpreter for many of St. Mary's groups in recent years.


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