WINTHROP — Early this year, the first plank was laid in a construction project in a mountainous region of Haiti to rebuild a Catholic church that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2010.
Father Real “Joe” Corriveau, a Winthrop native who first moved to the Caribbean nation in the 1960s, founded the parish, St. Anthony of Padua in the town of Fond Oies.
Attendees at the groundbreaking included an engineer who had organized the project and a pastor, Father Michard Jean-Jacques, who said a prayer to bless the construction site and wore a white robe, called an alb, and a green stole around his neck.
According to Corriveau, when rain started to fall shortly after Jean-Jacques finished his prayer that day, the organizers saw the weather change as a good sign — not least of all because it would provide some much-needed water for people’s gardens, he said.
But one of the biggest windfalls to come to the parish has come from thousands of miles away: Corriveau’s hometown.
Beginning in 2014, a group of people who grew up with Corriveau — who is almost 85 — began raising funds for the roughly $250,000 construction project. They have so far raised $180,000, which was enough to begin construction on the concrete building, which is 80 feet long and 40 feet wide.