Haiti Committee Meeting. Learn more about Haiti Summer Camp and the Littlest Angels campaign and help plan for our sister parish, St Claire in Dessalines, and Fr Alexis’ visit next month. Meeting is at 7:00 pm on Monday, February 25 in the Bethlehem Room.
On Saturday, March 9 after the 5 PM mass, there will be a Pot Luck dinner in the Parish Center. Father Alexis will update us on St Claire, the parish schools, the children that our Littlest Angels program feeds every school day, the upcoming summer camp, the spiritual partnership between our parishes. This event is open to all parishioners and friends.
Mission Statement – The St. Ann Haiti Outreach provides parishioners of St. Ann in Hagerstown and St. Claire in Dessalines, Haiti an opportunity to experience the Universal Church and serve one another as brothers and sisters in faith.
Why an Outreach to Haiti? – The Archdiocese of Baltimore is partnered with the Diocese of Gonaives in Haiti. Over twenty parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are partnered with parishes in the Diocese of Gonaives. St. Ann parish has been one of those parishes for over 15 years. These partnerships feed thousands of malnourished school children and help Haitian communities “help themselves”. Both parishes benefit from the exchange.
1. Partnership – This is a partnership in which both partners bring value to the relationship and in which both partners receive value from the relationship. We will approach all of our activities identifying the value exchange. Activities should be “done with” our partner and never “done to” or “done for” a partner. Activities should be undertaken with input and value added by both partners. We should work in a way that allows parishioners of St Ann see how they benefit from the partnership, how they are recipients in a different but equally important way.
2. Faith – This is a partnership that is based in the faith of God and Jesus Christ. Our activities should attempt to reflect the will of God and prayer should be an integral part of all that we do.
3. Sustainability – Activities undertaken by St. Ann Parish should aim to be Development activities that strengthen St Claire and its parishioners for the long term and enhance their capability and self-sufficiency. Relief and Recovery activities should be limited to crisis scenarios such as an earthquake or a medical crisis. We should avoid activities that may lead to dependencies and embrace activities that make both partners stronger.
4. Transparency of Actions and Funding – The St. Ann Committee’s actions and spending will be fully transparent to the parish and financial supporters of the committee. Money raised for a specified activity will be used only for that activity. Our intentions and activities will also be transparent to our partner parish, St. Claire. We will also encourage transparency on the part of the pastor of our partner parish to his parishioners.
Strategic Projects (in priority):
1. School Feeding Program (Littlest Angels) – Money is raised each year during Lent to feed the youngest students in the schools of St. Claire Parish. This feeding program provides a daily hot meal (4 days/wk) to approximately 800+students each year. The meal is an incentive to parents of St. Claire to send their children to school and in many cases it is the only meal that child will get on those days. While the feeding program itself could be categorized as a “hand out”, the effect of the feeding program, getting more children into school, is clearly a Development activity that enhances the capability of the people of St. Claire.
We invite you to join this partnership between St Ann and St Claire this Lent by supporting one or more of these “Littlest Angels”. Our goal is to feed 800 students. The cost is $70 per child, which feeds that child all year. Won’t you help?
2. Summer Camp – Each Summer a group of youth and adults from St. Ann travels to St. Claire to conduct a one week camp for a select group of students from St. Claire’s schools (approx. 100). The honor of being selected to attend the camp is motivation during the school year for the students of St. Claire schools. The youth and adults from St. Ann that conduct the camp get a unique and potentially life-changing opportunity to see a third world country first hand and to engage the children and people of St. Claire Parish in a close and personal way. The interactions have the potential to be life altering for everyone involved from both parishes.
3. Winter Trip – Periodically adults from St. Ann travel to St. Claire to follow-up on joint projects that may be going on and to see the Littlest Angels feeding program in action. Additionally, training programs on various items such as water purification, hygiene, first aid and rosary making have been conducted.
4. Trade School – Fr. Alexis has requested that St. Ann assist him in with the trade school he has started. This is not a current project.
Other Regular Activities
1. Prayer Exchange – Each week the parishioners of each parish pray during mass for the other parish. This is generally done at the Prayer of the Faithful. Additionally, other types of prayer exchange are encouraged and facilitated. These generally occur around a trip to St. Claire from St. Ann parishioners but it is not limited to trips. Prayer ‘strips’ and a children’s ‘hand banner’ are examples.
2. Spirituality Outreach – To increase the spiritual connection between our two parishes we have started an outreach where each parish makes rosaries for the first communicants in the others parish. We are in our 2nd year for this and it has been successful. We encourage the parents of our first communicants to make rosaries and we have a group of individuals who meet to help make them. We provide the supplies for the parishioners of St. Claire to make rosaries for our children making their first communion.
3. Priest Visits – It is the desire of the Haiti Committee for the priest of St. Claire to come to St. Ann about every two years to get an opportunity to interact with the parishioners of St. Ann. This usually involves concelebrating mass, a social gathering with parishioners and a business meeting with Committee members. We also encourage the priest of St. Ann to visit St. Claire every 3 to 4 years to help maintain a strong relationship between the pastors.
YOU Can Be Involved in the Haiti Outreach:
You can help with different projects: for instance, making rosaries for the first communicants of St Claire or participating in the planning for the visits by the pastor of St Claire or preparing the Littlest Angels envelopes.
Or you may be a teen or adult interested in traveling to Haiti during one of our service and awareness trips.
If you want to be part of the Haiti Outreach at St Ann, we welcome you.
The Haiti Outreach Committee meets about 5 times a year.
Let us know of your interest by contacting St. Ann parish office at 301-733-0410.
Reflections from Haiti Summer Camp from Jim Gullace..…Why the Littlest Angels Campaign?
I was at Mass one Sunday in 2008 and listened to an altar talk of Barbara Lloyd about her visit to our sister parish in Haiti. I told myself right then that I had to go.
That started my journey of the last 10 years of being a part of the outreach to our sister parish of St. Claire. In 2009, I made my first trip there as a part of the first summer camp team. What a life changing experience. The joy of the Haitian people and the love of the children were over whelming. All this set against so much poverty.
I met a little girl on that trip with a great personality, her picture from 2009 hangs on the wall in my office. When I went back in 2011 I wondered if she would be there and she was. What was more amazing was that she remembered me. She called my name as I walked across the school yard. She was two years older and doing well.
Go forward to 2015 and another summer camp. Yes, she was there and now a part of the team of Haitian teens who help put on the camp with us. A teenager, happy, healthy and a great example to all the children of the camp.
She was there in 2017 when I went back, still doing well and a leader on the team. I could not help but wonder where she might be today if there was no Littlest Angels campaign. She is just one of hundreds of children we have helped feed over the years. It gives me hope in the future for the people of our sister parish of St. Claire.
Thoughts from Agnes Supernavage, St Ann parishioner and Haiti “summer camper”…….
In 2001, I read in St. Ann Bulletin about a volunteer trip to Haiti organized by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I applied and spent 2 weeks helping with small projects in the Diocese of Gonaives. I went with the idea of doing good by giving of myself. Oh boy…was I wrong when I thought I would be the giver! I received so much more than I gave during that trip!
That first contact with the people of Haiti changed my life in ways that I would never have anticipated.
St. Ann parish at the time had a fledgling relationship with St. Claire parish in Dessalines. It gave me the foundation to remain involved with Haiti. The relationship with St. Claire developed into a mutually fulfilling partnership and I remained committed to be an active part of it. I thank God every day for showing me that I was “good enough” to serve and for filling my heart with the love of Haiti and its people.
Alyssa Brandt’s Reflection on visiting Haiti
I traveled to Haiti with St. Ann’s for the first time when I was 15 years old, where I worked at the annual summer camp and became friends with many of the youth parishioners of St. Claire. My experiences in Haiti revolutionized by worldview and, ultimately, my life in several ways. First, after spending time in the local clinic and witnessing the lack of adequate healthcare, I decided to become a doctor. Second, making friends with several Haitians my age and learning about a new culture gave new context to the way I experience my daily life. It made me more curious about other’s backgrounds and how my own culture shapes the way I perceive the world. Engaging myself in Haitian culture also challenged me in unexpected ways. It was my first experience as a minority, an experience that encouraged me to confront the limits of my comfort zone as I began to question the ways I may harbor my own biases. I struggled with topics such as unearned privilege and gender roles in a unique culture. Most importantly, however, are the several lifelong friends I have in Haiti because of the partnership between St. Ann’s and St. Claire.
I have returned to Haiti several times since my first trip there many years ago. Most recently I spent several weeks living at a local convent and practicing medicine with several nuns from Madagascar who work as nurses in Dessalines. After graduating undergrad I was accepted as a medical student at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, where I am currently a fourth year medical student and global health scholar. In several months I will be traveling back to Ghana to intern with the chief of surgery at Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua. Ultimately, my goal is to become a surgeon who operates alongside local physicians in communities around the globe who don’t have access to quality care, and I owe this ambition to St. Ann’s Haiti Outreach program.