Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Volunteers Share Their Experiences Of Helping Our Friends In Haiti

Maryknoll Sister Janet Miller speaks at the Jan. 9 Rice and Beans Dinner and Sharing, which was hosted by St. Theresa and Good Shepherd parishes in Evansville. The Message photo by Ruth Bandas

About 100 people were not hindered by incoming winter weather on Jan. 9 when they gathered at Good Shepherd Parish in Evansville for the Second Annual Rice and Beans Dinner and Sharing. Attendees came  from 11 Catholic parishes across the diocese –St. Boniface, Corpus Christi, St. Theresa and Good Shepherd, all of Evansville; St. Joseph, Vanderburgh County; St. Wendell, St. Wendell; St. Francis Xavier, Poseyville; Saints Peter & Paul, Haubstadt; St. John the Baptist, Newburgh; and St. John the Evangelist, Daylight. Members of the St. Paul United Church of Christ in Evansville also attended,

Mary Beth Davis, outreach coordinator for St. Theresa and Good Shepherd parishes, explained in her opening remarks that the purpose of the event was to share information about the work that parishes are doing to help their twinned parishes in Haiti, and to encourage involvement by individuals and parishes that are not active in the program.

Maryknoll Sister Janet Miller, co-director of the Maryknoll Sisters Environmental Office delivered a keynote about the unique bond between parishes that work on Haiti projects; Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’;” and the need for project development – in Haiti, and worldwide – that uses technology free of fossil fuels. “It’s our spirit, our prayers and our hands-on concern that are the key ingredients for our mission work,” Sister Janet said.

Two Haitian students Steve Gene and Fredson Joseph, who attend colleges in Evansville through sponsorship from St. Joseph, Vanderburgh County’s outreach ministry, discussed their family life in Haiti, how the student sponsorship program has allowed them to continue their education, and how thankful they are for everything that has been done for them and all the people in Haiti.

During a panel discussion, several volunteers from parishes spoke about their missions:

  • Jim Schroeder of St. Boniface Parish: “Advice-sharing with other diocesan parishes has been essential in the success of our Haiti projects.”
  • George & Dianne Moll of Corpus Christi Parish: “’Ti pa ti pa’ in Creole, means ‘little by little.’ Planning and implementing projects, together with other parishes, is accomplished little by little - but the impact is huge.”
  • Joe Wildeman of St. Francis Xavier Parish: “We have been given ‘God-winks,’ which are volunteers, solutions and funding that we need to help our friends in Haiti.”
  • Greg Head of St. Joseph Parish, Vanderburgh County: “This opportunity we’ve been given has shown us how weak our faith is and how strong the faith is of the people in Haiti.”
  • Davis of St. Theresa Parish: “We’ve been given the gift of a lifetime as we work together to do this important work for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.”

Ann Ennis, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Vanderburgh County, spoke about available travel grants funded by the Father James Lex Global Social Justice for Third-World Travel Endowment. The primary emphasis of the endowment is Haitian work efforts, with $300 - $600 grants available.