By Father Frank Rouleau
Parish Twinning is about building relationships and solidarity with Catholic parishes in other places. “We are members of a universal Church that transcends national boundaries and calls us to live in solidarity and justice with the peoples of the world” (US Council of Catholic Bishops, 1997).
“Sacred Scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbors and demands of us a shared responsibility for all of humanity. This duty is not limited to one’s own family, nation or state, but extends progressively to all… so no one can consider himself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family” St Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #51.
In Parish Twinning the community develops a Christ centered, mission-oriented collaboration with a Parish in Haiti. “A true partnership involves the building and nurturing of a relationship over time, that transcends one act of working together (such as a project), or of sending a series of checks… When the relationship is itself highly valued, it allows for mutual participation and transformation, as all are invited to participate equally, and we all have the ability to love, pray and our faith to be present to one another.” (CRS, Parish Partnership Manual) It helps us to better understand the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic” faith that is shared by people throughout the world.
In 1985 the Diocese of Norwich responded to requests of lay people from the Diocese who asked what we, as a Diocese, could do to help the people of Haiti. A delegation of lay people went to Haiti to ﬁnd out. As a result of that visit, we have had a partnership with the Port au Prince Archdiocese for over 30 years; our two Dioceses are twinned. Diocese of Norwich Outreach to Haiti has:Twinning, Education Scholarships, Nutritional and Medical Clinic in the Christ Roi section of Port au Prince. Our philosophy is Helping Haitians Help Haitians.
“All the poor – as Blessed Paul VI loved to say – belong to the Church by ‘evangelical right’. Blessed are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope. Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity. Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters.” Pope Francis, Message on the First World Day of the Poor, 13 June 2017
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The Church in Haiti is as poor as the people. The Faith is strong in Haiti and 70% of the people are Catholic. Their gift is the witness of their Faith, trusting in God, despite all the turmoil and poverty in their lives. As the Bishop of Norwich, Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, has stated “we get more out of Haiti spiritually than we put into the country materially”.
By building bridges of faith, Catholics link together mutual sharing of resources in Jesus’ Name. This involves going outside of one’s comfort zone, crossing over into another culture, into another economic, linguistic & political system. Parish Twinning is truly an outreach to our sisters and brothers who share our faith, but not all the material blessings we enjoy.
Parish Twinning starts with a Parish discerning if God is calling them to reach out to help build up the Church beyond the boundaries of the Parish. God has led the Diocese of Norwich to twin with the Archdiocese of Port au Prince, Haiti. There are many poor parishes in the Archdiocese that could use assistance. What a difference help can make! Twinned parishes support teachers’ salaries, scholarships, nutrition and other programs to break the cycle of poverty.
Diocese of Norwich Outreach to Haiti has parishes twinned through us from the following areas: Dioceses of Norwich, CT; Superior, WI; Archdiocese of Hartford, CT; Milwaukee, WI & Seattle, WA.
The needs are great in Haiti, the resources not so much. Is God calling your parish to enter into a faith-ﬁlled growth experience? Please speak with your Pastor and investigate the possibilities.
Visit Outreachtohaiti.org or call 860-800-3601 to ﬁnd out more.