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Update on the USCCB's Ongoing Work in Haiti

 

Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, MSpS
Chair, Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America

Thank you Archbishop Kurtz for giving us time to give this update. The Subcommittee and I are also grateful to you for travelling to Rome with Archbishop Wenski for the Day of Reflection on Solidarity with Haiti and then going on to Haiti with Archbishop Coakley to see not only the newly rebuilt Hospital of Saint Francis de Sales but several other church buildings being rebuilt. It makes a difference when we as bishops and leaders take time to see firsthand all the good our efforts can bring about.

Dear brothers, I would like to begin by stating that this update builds on a long history of solidarity of our Conference and the Catholic faithful of the United States with Haiti. Since 1954, Catholic Relief Services has been present in Haiti and since the beginning of the Collection for the Church in Latin America, some fifty years ago, we have been supporting the pastoral works of the Church in Haiti. In addition, many of our dioceses and individual parishes have been involved in some type of relationship with Haiti. This has meant that as a Church here in the United States we have quite a history of solidarity and relationship with the Church in Haiti.

Yet, our clearest and most important expressions of our solidarity and relationship with the people and the Church in Haiti have taken place since the earthquake in 2010. Since then, people’s lives have been touched and changed. Now that we are seeing literally concrete signs of our help and will continue to see them for the next few years, it is also time at least to begin our reflection on how our relationship with the Church in Haiti will continue to deepen through the years.

Before I say more about this, I’d like to show you the video that was created to let you know how people’s lives have been made better with our help. It also shows where we are in terms of what we as the Catholic Church in the United States have done and continue to do to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

(VIDEO)

You can see the tremendous progress that has taken place in Haiti and the many lives that have been changed because of our solidarity. We really can be encouraged knowing that the church is a great example of what is being rebuilt in Haiti. Through the end of 2014, USCCB has awarded nearly $23 million to 29 reconstruction projects through PROCHE, the partnership for reconstruction established with the Church in Haiti and sister churches. Ten buildings have been completed and there are 35 projects currently in progress. And this has been accomplished—although slowly and with great difficulty at times—with transparency and accountability. These are not small accomplishments and we should boast on them. The money Catholics in the United States gave us in trust has been well spent and we can show a lot for it. The people CRS served especially after the earthquake were comforted and helped. The structures we have built are all hurricane and earthquake resistant and are now housing priests, sisters, brothers and serving as places of community building and worship.

In addition, we have continued to help not only with reconstruction but also with many pastoral projects. For example, on Monday our subcommittee approved, among others, a grant to help fund the National Youth Congress that will take place this August and which will help young people celebrate their faith and find new ways to be missionary disciples.

Yet, as the video begins to suggest, we also need to start reflecting on what our next steps will be to continue helping the people and the Church in Haiti with the reconstruction efforts. It seems to me that we cannot say, “Good job, well done, and that is it!” This rather is the time to say, “What is next? How do we keep this momentum going?” The subcommittee has started to discuss this, but it would certainly appreciate hearing from you as to what may be the ways in which we as a conference want to keep this good work of solidarity going.

Finally, thank you to all of the members of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and the members of the Haiti Advisory Group for the tireless efforts every one of them has made to show our solidarity with Haiti during our service on the subcommittee. I also would like to thank CRS and Archbishop Coakley for the collaboration we have achieved to help the people of Haiti.

I am open for questions, suggestions or clarifications if there are any.

Thank you.



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