Friends in Haiti
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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
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
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
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
Father Wilner Donecia
Father Wilner was born in northern Haiti on December 28, 1950. He was
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
Father Ronel "Cha Cha"
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 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).
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
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
Sister Mary Finnick
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
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
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
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.