We are blessed to have many wonderful people use the varied gifts God gave them to walk with us and serve our brothers and sisters in Haiti for more than thirty-five years. We celebrated this Anniversary Milestone in November at a special dinner with many of our friends and supporters who helped us honor the work and special efforts of several individuals who have been God’s servants in our diocesan ministry. We thank the President of Mercy High School, Alissa DeJonge for hosting our event at Mercy High School. The venue was warm and inviting, the food delicious and the company inspiring.
Special honorees were the Most Reverend Bishop Michael R. Cote, D.D., Sister Ellen Flynn, RSM, Reverend Gerald S. Kirby, Daniel E. O’Sullivan and the Inaugural Works of Mercy Award was presented to the Director of The Padre Pio Foundation of America, Julie Fitts Ritter.
We have been blessed by the wisdom, foresight, and leadership of Bishop Cote who had the vision to merge two wonderful ministries working in Port-au-Prince into one to maximize resources and efforts. Under Bishop Cote’s leadership the Diocese of Norwich twins with the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. To help strengthen this relationship and to support our work, Bishop Cote has visited Haiti. He is a dedicated supporter and advocate of our work, which has allowed us to grow our programs and complete our new building to replace the two that were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.
Sister Ellen Flynn followed the inner voice that called her to minister to the people of Haiti and touched countless lives through her warm friendship and loving care during her many years of service in Haiti. As she noted, “After returning home from my first trip to Haiti in the early 80’s, I knew this little Island and its people were going to be very important in my life.” Sister shared that when her three years were almost over Sister Ann Weller invited her to come and work with her. She said it was the best decision she ever made! “We started a school program, a small clinic, and programs for women. Twelve years later on sabbatical, I realized Haiti was still calling me; I spent my last years in Fon de Blan in the Southwest of Haiti and we were able to start a much-needed program for those living with HIV. Haiti will always be a part of me.” Sister Ellen continues to serve the people of Haiti as a member of our Board of Directors.
Reverend Gerald S. Kirby who spent many years serving in Haiti shared the following, “I discovered years ago that Haiti is completely indescribable. No words can capture the depth of its poverty or the wealth of its beauty and richness of the people. Most Haitians lack life’s necessities yet possess eternal values.” Father Kirby spent many years serving in Haiti where he was present to all: the people of Haiti, the guests at the house, other missionaries serving in Haiti, as well as the staff and people in the neighborhood being served. He initiated many programs including our Parish Twinning Program and is a constant and ardent supporter.
Daniel E. O’Sullivan, immediate past Director of Outreach, shared his many gifts and talents to move our ministry forward and upward. He was instrumental in helping to raise funds for our new building which is now up and operational. He continues to serve on the building committee and is dedicated to seeing Phase II, outfitting the building, completed. He has remained actively involved and with board member Tom Campbell, continues their bicycle “Ride to Rebuild” each fall. Dan related, “Seeing [the Haitian people] carry on in the face of adversity and seeing the strength of their faith is very uplifting. It has permanently affected my outlook on life.”
The Padre Pio Foundation of America, under the leadership of Julie Fitts Ritter, is a special friend and supporter. The Foundation continues Saint Padre Pio’s legacy of love and caring for those less fortunate and assists organizations like Outreach to Haiti as they serve the very people Padre Pio loved and cared for so deeply.
Julie shared, “The Foundation’s involvement with us and other organizations in Haiti and around the world touch the lives of the needy and suffering. What we do is for God’s glory, His Church and in honor of Padre Pio.”
We are thankful so many people with varied and different gifts have come together to support our work as evidenced by those who were honored and those who walk with us to serve our brothers and sisters, especially in Haiti. We are inspired by their commitment and hope you will join us and support our work.
As noted in Romans, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
By Susan Wallace