Auction to benefit Haiti project
by W. Winston Skinner
When a major earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Coweta responded.
Several churches and organizations found ways to reach out to residents in the Caribbean nation. Members of St. George Catholic Church have been contributing toward ministry in Haiti since before the earthquake, and an upcoming auction will help those still struggling in the island nation.
The Project Haiti ministry at St. George’s is sponsoring a fundraiser – including auctions and raffles – on Friday. Activities will start at 7 p.m. at the church on Roscoe Road. The silent auction of items displayed on tables will close beginning at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $5 and include hors d'oeuvres and draft beer. The event is for adults aged 21 and over.
The Project Haiti ministry at St. George’s was established in 2008. “The project primarily funds Catholic parishes in northern Haiti, in LaBruyere and LaLomas,” said Jim Stagg, a member at St. George’s.
“For example, Project Haiti completed building a new school at the LaBruyere parish, among other construction. Project Haiti also provides funding to pay teachers at both locations, which currently enables the education of more than 3,000 students, including those who are not Catholic,” he explained.
While these parishes are about six hours’ travel by road from the earthquake center near Port-au-Prince, they were stressed to accommodate refugees from the disaster area, including workers originally from LaBruyere and LaLomas. Injured Haitians were also transported to the region.
“Some refugees were served by the medical clinic at the parish, which serves all people in this impoverished village. Project Haiti has now provided a potable water supply and solar electric power for the complex, including the medical center,” Stagg said.
In addition, medical equipment was purchased by the St. George Knights of Columbus Council 662i.
Monsignor Andre Pierre of Haiti visited Newnan in early July. Pierre studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a scholarship and was later assigned to a project in Washington, D.C. for several years.
Pierre has spent most of his life in Haiti. He is former secretary of the Haitian Bishops Conference and president of the Catholic University of Notre Dame of Haiti based in Port-au-Prince.
He took part in several services at St. George’s and was invited to speak at an Atlanta medical school to resident doctors concerning potential cooperation with the School of Medicine at Notre Dame University.
“At the weekend Masses, Monsignor Pierre praised the massive effort mounted by countries, organizations and churches to aid the stricken Haitians after the disastrous earthquake,” Stagg said.
On the morning of the earthquake in Haiti, Pierre was called to a meeting with the archbishop and the vicar general of Port-au-Prince Diocese.
Just as he was to enter the building, Pierre was delayed for only a few minutes by someone who rushed up to wish him “Happy New Year” and asked for his blessing.
“Then, just as he entered the residence, the earthquake struck,” Stagg related. “The vicar general was killed awaiting him in the conference room, and Monsignor Pierre found himself buried in rubble, but able to dig himself out,” Stagg said.
Pierre told the congregation he had the thought that “God was not ready to see me yet.”
He immediately went to work – helping and directing recovery efforts.
As an educator, Pierre praised those who support increased educational opportunities for Haitians. The monsignor said he was particularly struck by a quotation from Ellis Arnall, Coweta native and onetime Georgia governor, “Education is the hope of the future. It is the salvation of our people.”
Thinking back to the earthquake, Pierre praised the rapid response of churches like St. George’s, which already had a Haitian presence.
For more information on the fundraiser, call 770-328-0498 or visit www.st-george-haiti-ministry.com.