Tuesday, September 9, 2008

High School Graduation in Banica

For some reason the graduation ceremony (for those who finished their studies in June) took place this past Saturday evening.  

This year's graduating class (18 students in all) includes two young ladies of great faith.  Ginabel and Stephanie have been very active in the Church (choir, youth group, and more).  They will begin their university studies this coming January, and both will be missed here very much in the community.  

Joining the three of us in the photo is a former parish altar boy who is about to enter the police academy.  

Three young adults of whom we can all be very proud!

Bringing hope to Haiti - Nativity Parish in Burke

Banica is located just 5 minutes from the border with Haiti.  Haiti is a nation that suffers extreme poverty as a few facts can indicate:  (1) it is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere; (2) it is the third hungriest nation, behind Somalia and Afghanistan; (3) 85% of her people survive on less than $1 US per day.  

Fr. Martin (pastor of Nativity parish in Burke) heard God's call to rally his people in support of Haiti.  This past Friday, September 5, a ceremony took place in El Corte, a Haitian town just about 30 minutes from Banica.  Fr. Martin was to be joined by Mr. Jim McDaniels in the blessing of a community of 150 newly built homes and several other facilities, made possible by the tremendous generosity of Nativity parishioners and Food for the Poor.  

Unfortunately travel conditions in the US cancelled their flight and they were unable to attend.  I was asked by a representative from Food for the Poor to stand in for Fr. Martin.

Two photos show a gentleman addressing the 100+ persons assembled in the new community center offering words of thanks to representatives of Food for the Poor.  

Two photos capture the scene after the gathering, near the sign which proudly welcomes people to "Nativity Village III."  

Two photos show some of the homes and the chicken-raising facility.  

All of this construction took place in the course of about 3 months and it now literally makes this portion of the beautiful Haitian hillside gleam - with hope.  

Thanks be to God, to Fr. Martin, Nativity parishioners, and Food for the Poor!

Fr. Jack O'Hara and Peter Dirr

Fr. Murphy and I welcomed Fr. Jack O'Hara and Mr. Peter Dirr for a brief visit.  Both are very much loved and appreciated here in Banica.  Fr. O'Hara has previously served here as parochial vicar and continues to support the work of the mission in important ways.  Mr. Peter Dirr (who serves on the Board of Directors of Medical Missionaries) supports the mission very generously as well and this visit included a meeting with Bishop Grullon to discuss future projects.  

The photo shows Fr. O'Hara, Peter, myself, and Homero Matos (a pillar of the community here in Banica) after dinner in a family's backyard enramada.