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"No one man, or group of men, can himself speak for the Church of Christ. It is nonetheless possible to speak from within the Church, in conformity with Orthodox tradition; and it is this that we shall attempt to do." Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodox Word #1 Jan-Feb 1965 p. 17
Haitian Mission Update
1. FEED THE STARVING CHILDREN
2. TUITION PLEDGES
3. CLASSROOM CONSTRUCTION
4. SPONSOR A CHILD
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2009 17:19:10 -0500
Subject: [haitianorthodoxmission] Update
Blessings in the celebration of our beloved Vladyka John! Sorry -- I didn't intend this to be quite so occasional a newsletter! Just back from the third visit to Haiti this year (earlier, soon after Theophany and then during & after Bright Week). By God's providence, all is stable and calm with our community there. Both parishes (St. Dorothy's & St. Augustine's) are functioning well, as are the school at St. Augustine's and the two affiliated schools in Port-au-Prince (St. Nicolas & St. John Chrysostom). All three schools were able to maintain a regular meal program throughout the year, even though SJC fell short (mostly because of much larger than anticipated enrollment) early on -- and was able to raise enough support from better-off parents to continue.
Shortly before I left on this trip I received word (from Haiti) that Met. Hilarion of the ROCOR/MP was expected to arrive the day before I did. Didn't happen. Unknown whether (a) this was simply a false rumor propagated by ROCOR/MP people in Haiti for whatever devious reasons, or (b) such a trip really was planned, then called off or postponed.
Thanks to some very generous donations, we have been able, at last, to retire all the debts incurred early last year (mostly for expansion of St. Augustine's School), so at least we're back on top financially. There will be no repeat -- if we don't have funds, we simply won't do.
Pascha was celebrated by the entire community at St. Augustine's -- nearly the entire congregation from St. Dorothy's went by bus to Cyvadier on Bright Wednesday, where the full cycle of services was celebrated through Pascha. Unforeseen political conditions closed all the highways on Pascha, so the entire crowd was compelled to spend an extra night on the concrete floors of the school before returning to PaP on Monday. I got there on Wednesday, served with Fr. Amboise Thurs/Fri for the Life-giving Spring, then for Thomas Sunday at St. Augustine's. All round, a joyful (and exhausting!) Paschal celebration.
This trip was very peaceful, though travel both there & back was plagued by weather & equipment problems (necessitating an overnight stay in Miami on the way back). At St. Dorothy's we had a surprisingly large congregation for a mid-week celebration (SS Onouphrius & Peter), then on to St. Augustine's for the patronal feast on Sunday followed by a communal meal. A joyous occasion.
Prepared by e-mail contact before I left, I was pleased to receive as penitents two "returnees" (Amos and John -- keep them in your prayers) who had left Nativity in 2005, disheartened by what they saw as Fr. Jean's mismanagement of the parish. Having sojourned with the RCs these four years, they will spend a considerable amount of time as penitents before being chrismated anew & received into the communion of the Holy Mysteries.
And now --
It's the summertime "breather", bracing for the needs of the coming year. Foremost of course is the need to continue with the meals for kids program. I've requested another container donation from Feed My Starving Children, but have as yet no response. Pray that they continue their generosity. Once again, we face the need for funds for transport, distribution, and preparation/serving for the food. Some hope for a little relief in the transport department (one of our faithful in DC provided me with a couple of government contacts which might lead to at least partially subsidized transport, but that remains to be seen). Last year's figure of $10,000 for the program (all of it mercifully & astonishingly raised) turned out to be just about right. This year, it should be, God willing, somewhat less -- no need this time to buy cooking & serving equipment, and we may hope that the basic transport cost (Illinois to PaP) may at least be less, perhaps even zero. Even if all that's true, we still need about $3,000 (that's about $6 per child for 5 meals a week for ten months --- mighty cheap!). Please open your checkbooks!
Second "special need": Once again, St. Augustine's is faced with a choice: about 30 students have completed the top-level class currently offered there. Either we put them out to find (or not find) places in Roman Catholic or Protestant schools, or we add another classroom (or, in case of desperate necessity, move a class back into the nave of the church) and another level of instruction. I'm awaiting construction bids (materials & labor) for the former, which I expect to be in the vicinity of $10,000 (hope I'm way high!). The latter requires upper-level instructors (paid by the hour -- about $4/hour, about 30 hours/week, around $500/month). But ICOSA can't charge the students anywhere near that much, at least not at present (because, first, the families can't pay that much, and secondly, it can't practically speaking charge any more than other, heavily subsidized schools in the area). Result: ICOSA's current subsidy of $2000 a month will have to be increased if we are to add this 10th year class. Pledges badly needed!
Third: As part of last year's construction work at St. Augustine's, a beginning was made on what is destined to be an apartment on the 2nd floor over the school offices, then had to be abandoned for lack of funds. Most of the walls are up -- and in danger of deterioration from the elements unless work is resumed in the near future. A rough estimate places cost of getting the walls completed (structure, not finishing) and the roof built at about $2,000. At that point, the structure would be stable and protected, though not usable. Good guess for completion (building a stairway, installing electric & plumbing, finish-plastering walls, floor, ceiling, etc.) would require an additional $5,000 -- if done right away. Materials costs in Haiti escalate daily. Completion of this apartment would provide quarters for Fr. Amboise on his visits, me on mine (if I can tear myself away from the Cyvadier Hotel!), as well as other visitors.
Fourth: I'm trying to re-do the structure of funding for our faithful who are struggling to get through university & professional schools (most of whom have, sadly, been out of school the past couple of years). We need sponsors for these students, who need anywhere from $50-$300/month for their schooling. We also need individual sponsors for the poorest children at St. Nicolas & St. John Chrysostom, who really can't pay even the very small fees these schools charge. By the end of summer, I hope to have individual dossiers for all these folks (photo, family situation, past school records, etc). For the older students, these scholarships are only available to those who have been baptized and faithful in church attendance for at least three years. For the little ones, no such criterion will apply -- they're not old enough to make their own decisions and control their own activities. How many can you "adopt"?
My apologies for website in dire need of updating. I actually have quite a number of nice photos from these last visits -- but it takes a LOT of time & energy to get them processed & installed on the site. Pray that I'll find the energy before too long!
I'll try to keep you updated as data flows in regarding the food shipment and anticipated construction costs -- as well as any developments in the churches of which you would want to be aware. Please forgive my long silence!
In Christ Jesus,
Fr. Gregory Williams
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The Saint John of Kronstadt Press
The Haitian Orthodox Mission
The Orthodox Church of the Annunciation/Agape Community
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
1180 Orthodox Way
Liberty, TN 37095-4366 USA
Catalog of books & recordings: www.sjkp.org
Information on the Haitian Mission: www.haitianorthodoxmission.org
Information on Church of the Annunciation: www.annunciation.us
Phone: (615) 536-5239
FAX: (615) 536-5945