WARSAW — Sacred Heart Parish in Warsaw hosted a visit from Father Joseph Francois, the pastor of its “twin” parish, St. Nicolas in Kenscoff, Haiti, the weekend of Aug. 6. Kenscoff is located approximately 10 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince.
Also visiting that weekend was Father Edwige Carre, former pastor of St. Nicolas. Father Carre established the parish partnership with Sacred Heart 24 years ago and is currently pastor of Holy Name Parish in Nashville, Tenn.
The term “twin parish” not only describes the close bond developed over the years between the two parishes, but their participation in the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, a nonprofit organization that links Catholic parishes in the U.S. or Canada with parishes in Haiti, the Caribbean and Latin America. The program’s goal is to provide resources for educational, medical, financial and spiritual enrichments, while building a mutual loving and respectful relationship between “twins.”
Father Francois, and Father Carre’s busy weekend schedules included advising the Sacred Heart Parish Twinning Program Committee on future projects, celebrating weekend Masses and meeting parishioners. Prior to Mass, Father Phil DeVolder, pastor of Sacred Heart, introduced and welcomed Fathers Francois and Carre to the parish, mentioning that “the people have been looking forward to the priests’ visit.”
During the homilies, Father Francois and Father Carre spoke movingly of their gratitude to Sacred Heart parishioners for their longtime spiritual and financial support of St. Nicolas congregation.
“The people at Sacred Heart are extremely generous, and have been for 24 years,” Father DeVolder said. “This is quite a commitment.”
This support has included helping with the educational needs of the 759 students who attend John Paul II School and providing meals to the children enrolled in the parish’s pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classes.
Oftentimes, the school lunch is the only meal many children receive that day.
Sacred Heart Parish continues assisting St. Nicolas Church and School with the installation of sanitary water and waste systems as well as repairs needed after the 2010 earthquake. The priests mentioned that while past contributions have been essential to St. Nicolas Parish, Sacred Heart’s continued support is vital as Kenscoff is still experiencing difficulties, such as a renewed cholera outbreak.
Father Francois and Father Carre also expressed their joy for having the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist with Sacred Heart parishioners. The priests concluded the homily by thanking the parish once again for their support and saying that, “We love you and pray all the time for you, and will continue to do so.”
Following each Mass, parishioners had the opportunity to meet and talk with the priests over coffee and doughnuts in the school gym. An online slide show and photo albums of previous mission visits to St. Nicolas were available for viewing.
As part of the twinning program, Sacred Heart has sent shipments of medical supplies, food and clothes to St. Nicolas. Sacred Heart has also provided financial support by purchasing seeds for crops and farm animals after the 2010 earthquake.
Upcoming projects include another shipment of supplies to St. Nicolas later this year, a mission visit this fall and hopefully a medical mission next year.
Debbie Reith, Sacred Heart chair of the Twinning Parish Committee said, “Our work for our sister parish is only possible through the giving of the time, talent and treasure of our parishioners here at Sacred Heart.”
For more information regarding Sacred Heart’s twinning program with St. Nicolas and opportunities to participate in future projects, call the parish office at (574) 267-5842. The office’s mailing address is 124 N. Lindberg, Warsaw, IN, 46580.
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