In the fall of 2003 Our Lady of Mount Carmel became a part of the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas. Since then we have sent a mission team of around 8-12 parishioners every year to the small town of Petite Riviere de Nippes (Ti Rivierre for short) to visit our twin parish of St. Antoine de Padoue and it's dynamic pastor, Pere Emmanuel Volcy. We have been blessed with a visit from Fr Volcy and a chance to hear him speak at OLMC's Sunday Masses. Through our shared experiences we have come to see that what we share is far greater than our differences and what we bring back is far greater than what we leave behind.
Since our twinning efforts began the people of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, we...
- have brought children to Indiana for life-saving surgery. One of them attended school at OLMC for several months as he received necessary therapy.
- have sent school supplies and purchased books for children who were attending school with no books, paper, pens, etc.
- have paid the salaries for the teachers in an ever growing education system. Before we began to help, the few teachers had no supplies and were rarely, if ever, paid for their efforts.
- have built a school, College Immaculate Conception, on the church grounds, and building or expanding several chapel schools in the surrounding hill country.
- are helping to improve the health of the people in small ways such as providing hygiene kits, in extremely important but occasional ways such as the medical mission trip in which skilled doctors and nurses treat as many patients as possible in a few days, and in long term ways such as supporting the efforts of the local clinic by providing them with basic first aid and non prescription medicines such as aspirin, vitamins, etc
- have fostered communication and brotherhood both within the 2 parishes and between them through exchange of letters, visits and mission teams, craft projects such as quilts, rosary making, and a cookbook and supporting their communal building projects through a Haitian DEPA program
- are providing clean water for many families through the Gift of Water bucket filtration system.
For more information, please email .
Country of Haiti and Parish
Country of Haiti
Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic and it's closest neighbor is Cuba. It is a mountainous land with a tropical climate. Clearing forest for farms and wood has stripped the land of its trees and left it vulnerable to landslides and runoff of valuable topsoil. This runoff has clouded the coastal areas with silt and driven the fish farther from the coast preventing the average Haitian from obtaining food from the sea. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the people speak Creole, 80% are Catholic, 80% illiterate, 70% unemployed and 90% earn less than $1.50 U.S. per year. About 1 in 10 babies die in infancy while the average life expectancy is 51 years. There are no manufacturing industries in Haiti and the only exports are craft items. The government is the longest standing democracy in the area but has been controlled mostly by about 10% of the population who enjoy an affluent lifestyle. Lately there have been several political changes and violence has broken out between factions in the government.
Petite Riviere de Nippes is a small town on the south-western finger of Haiti, Ti Rivierre, as it is called, is right on the coast and 76 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince. There are roughtly 30,000 people in the town. The majority of these people in this rural area live in extremely primative conditions. Most families have a very humble one room thatched or tin roof homes without running water or electricity. Their only means of income comes from selling produce from the small plot of land that they farm.
St Antoine de Padoue Parish
The parish of St Antoine is the spiritual, physical and cultural center of the town and it's pastor, Fr Volcy has an enormous impact on the entire community. The church itself had been remodeled with the help of a previous twin parish and when we began our relationship it was being used also as a school with classes meeting in the choir loft as well as any other available space. From the very beginning our first pastor, Fr Rebecca, identified education as his primary goal and identified many secondary goals such as improving medical, water, communication and other services to the community.
In addition to the main church, Fr. Volcy pastors 5 mission chapels in the hills surrounding Ti Rivierre. Each of these chapels has its own small primary school. As it takes Fr. Volcy time to travel to a chapel, he can only go to one or two a week so he must depend upon chapel directors and catechists to hold liturgy services and provide preparation for the sacraments on the weeks he can not be present. He tries to visit every chapel at least once every 2 months.
Healthcare in the area is provided by one dispensary with minimal medical supplies and staffed by 2 nurse auxilaire's. The Parish Twinning Program itself has established a separate non-profit organization to build a hospital in Petite Riviere. It is currently running as a clinic, named the Visitation Hospital.