By Mike Viola
In 2010 an earthquake destroyed St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fond-Oies, Haiti. Thirty parishioners were killed, and all of the buildings were reduced to rubble.
For years worshippers used a makeshift building made with USAID tarpaulins on the side and sheet metal on top. The parish pastor, Fr. Joe Corriveau, O.M.I. raised funds from friends in the United States to rebuild the parish. Eventually a new church and rectory were constructed.
In October Hurricane Matthew literally blew away much of the hard work of the people at St. Anthony. The church was destroyed and the rectory was severely damaged. Father Joe is now again raising funds and working to clear rubble to rebuild his beloved parish.
“The Oblates take a fourth vow which is perseverance,” said Fr. Joe. “This gives us the strength to stand up when disasters strike.”
There are nearly 150 Oblates working in Haiti, the largest Catholic congregation in the country. They run parishes, schools and medical facilities throughout the island nation. Most of their ministries were damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
“All of the Oblates are unharmed personally, but they, like the people they serve, are victims of the terrible storm,” said Fr. Loudeger Mazile, O.M.I., Haitian Provincial.
Some of the damage that took place at Oblate sites included:
Holy Angels Parish in Camp Perrin lost the entire church and rectory roofs.
Anne Parish Church in Camp Perrin was severely damaged when the roof collapsed on the pews. The parish hall is also in a critical state.
In Port-Salut, the parish church was completely destroyed with only the bell tower remaining.
An infirmary run by the Oblates for the poor lost its metal roof and all the trees on the property were knocked down. The elderly sought protection from the storm in cement bathrooms.
The Oblate Minor Seminary chapel, gymnasium, dormitories and conference rooms all suffered major damage. The Our Lady of Grace Novitiate lost its radio tower.
Please continue to pray for the Oblates and the people they serve in Haiti as they work to rebuild their lives and ministries of hope.