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Haiti Ministry

In the fall of 2002, a St. Bartholomew parishioner went to Jeremie, Haiti, with Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, a Norwich, CT orthodontist and founder and president of the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) in Jeremie. She returned, determined that we at St. Bart's had an obligation to help the poorest people in our hemisphere. Our Parish Council agreed to invite Dr. Lowney to come and speak at weekend Masses. He came, invited the Pastor, Director of Religious Education, and two members of the parish to come to Jeremie and see the work of the Foundation. We went, saw, and experienced a conversion - to see things from the perspective of the poor and to serve by engaging other people in this ministry.

We returned to Haiti that same year with 13 parishioners, and have returned yearly. Some of our pilgrimages tend to be more medical and dental, but there is always work that anyone can do. Our visits are for about a week and involve seeing the multifaceted work of HHF in Jeremie and in the surrounding 104 villages. We might assist public health agents in the villages, work on data entry or in the clinic, pharmacy, or maternal lying in hospital. We might help with the feeding of 1,200 women and children every other day. We reflect upon the experience, pray, and celebrate Mass - very early in the morning - each day. The work of HHF is multifaceted - public health, full service clinic that see 200 patients each day, and eye clinic, center for pregnant women at risk, feeding program, adopt a family, an elementary school serving 220 children, and more. There is always more than enough to experience and to do.

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Our core group of Haiti volunteers numbers about 30. We raise funds for HHF by special projects and work in Norwich to pack the land-sea containers which are a life-line to Jeremie. We give talks to school and church groups in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We are also involved in the summers with assisting HHF with the Mission Cooperative Collection in New England Catholic parishes.

The parish has been generous to this ministry. An annual collection on Easter Sunday funds the work of a health agent in one of the villages and gives us some seed money for our yearly visits. Additional funds are raised for special needs at the Clinic. We raised $22,000 last year for a much needed generator at the Clinic.

Our religious education program has its own outreach to Haiti. Students collect vitamins, or canned tuna which is sent to Jeremie through the Container. The junior high engages in a yearly "Penny War" which raises $1,000 or more. We are always looking for new ways to create opportunities to invest in this work!

How can you get started? You can contact the parish office (860-646-1613) or the Haitian Health Foundation (860-886-4357) for more information. We would be delighted to assist any parish with this extraordinary ministry to our poorest neighbors.


Jeanette Prignano
Mary Falotico   (860) 454-7160