Welcoming everyone to proclaim and live the joy of the Gospel.
As most of you know, twinning with our sister parish, St. Martin-de-Tours in Delatte, Haiti, goes back to 1998. After helping rebuild their church, The Haiti ministry was formed at St. Thomas Aquinas. Upon assessing St. Martin most basic needs, regular visits to St. Martin served to improve the main infrastructure with engineering know-how, clean water collection, electricity and any foundational needs, including building and outfitting classrooms. It soon became clear to all involved that education would be key to any real progress. St. Thomas Aquinas then pledged to assist St. Martin's school system, comprised of a main and satellite locations, by providing funds to cover teacher salaries, school supplies and a daily meal for the school children. Soon after, a team was formed to go provide much needed dental care once a year.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted St. Thomas' collections for the Haiti ministry. The drastic reduction in donations has forced some of St. Martin' schools to close due to the inability to pay the teachers and provide for student needs.
Many volunteers joined forces to produce the attached video from pictures taken during dental care missions to Haiti. Please post the video on your Facebook page to help broaden the donor base to our sister parish and keep the children of St. Martin in school.
At the end of the video, there is a QR code that, when scanned with your phone's camera, will take you to the St. Thomas Aquinas web site donation page under the heading: Haiti/Sister Parish. There, you can make a single or recurring donation to this mission. If preferred, please mail your donation with the mention "HAITI" directly to St. Thomas Aquinas at 535 Rucker Rd, Alpharetta, GA 30004. Receipts will be issued for tax purposes.
100% of donations go to support the schools and the children of St. Martin in Delatte, Haiti. Nothing is used for administrative expenses.
We thank you for joining all of our efforts to serve these poorest of the poor! Please keep our ministry in your prayers. The children of St. Martin are praying for you.
A bit of history for those who are not familiar with the Haiti Ministry:
Our relationship with the parish of St. Martin in Delatte, Haiti started in 1998 when St. Thomas Aquinas, then led by Msgr. Al Jowdy, answered the call to help build St. Martin a church, after theirs had been destroyed by a hurricane. Their church is still the only large gathering facility for the community.
Where is our sister parish?
St. Martin occupies a territory of approximately ten square miles in a mountainous region, about 48 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Access to our sister parish has improved over the last 22 years, but is still very difficult and not recommended for the faint of heart! The Parish Center, comprising the church, single-story rectory, dormitory, main school and other small administrative offices form a compound that sits at the top of a mountain.
What do we do in St. Martin?
In the first few years of our relationship, we of St. Thomas Aquinas focused our efforts on the basic necessities of life at their Parish Center, such as clean water, a reliable source of electricity for day-to-day living, repairs to reinforce existing structures, etc. We also shipped school supplies, and provided other needed material support to their parish school.After a few years of witnessing the excitement and positive change the school was making in Delatte, it became glaring to all involved that education would be the most important motor of change to give the whole community hope for a better future, and pride in their achievement.After all, it has been proven time and time again that education is the main catalyst to self-sufficiency.
You and other parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas supported this collective effort in a most generous way, year after year. Our parish committed to cover teacher salaries, a daily meal of rice and beans for the students, and other school related expenses.
The plan worked! Over the years, our sister parish has been able to operate not only the Parish Center school, but seven other remote locations which provide widespread access to education to the children of Delatte. No one is refused. Parents who were hesitant in the early days to send their children to school instead of to the fields are now encouraging them to excel. The graduation rate and quality of results are among the best in the country. Some students have been able to pursue higher education, and Delatte is seeing priests, teachers, agronomists and nurses come back to serve its population.
You and other parishioners have given a people so much hope!
A setback became a victory!
In 2010, a terrible earthquake rendered most of the old structures unusable.
If you remember, things were so bad in the cities of Haiti that the world noticed and rallied to help. Switzerland was originally looking to rebuild a school in one of those cities, but after looking into many possible locations, they chose Delatte in the mountains. What changed their minds? YOU DID!
They were thoroughly impressed by your desire to effect lasting change in Delatte, and the enthusiastic response of our sister parish, that translated into the amazing results of its students.
And so a new beautiful large Parish Center school opened in 2015, able to serve over 1,400 students in a safe, hurricane-proof, clean environment. You cannot imagine how immensely grateful the people of St. Martin are to you and the community of St. Thomas Aquinas! Those of us who were there will never forget their joy!
Our mission continues:
We are counting on your generous support to keep the children of St. Martin in school, and the dreams of the community alive! With the current pandemic and global political upheaval, it is even more imperative than ever to keep the light of hope shining.
Our annual need is $70,000 which translates to an average teacher salary of $600 a year, with a little extra for other school expenses.
Just think how far a donation of a few hundred dollars can go in our sister parish!
As Msgr. Jowdy once told me, “This is the best investment I ever made!”
The second collection for our Haiti Sister Parish is this weekend! Your donation can also be brought directly to the parish office, with the notation “Haiti” on your check, or click here.