“In the late 1970s my wife Barb and I took a Caribbean cruise that stopped at the Haitian capitol, Port-au-Prince. We couldn’t fathom why the cruise line would mar a luxury vacation with a visit to such a horrible, filthy place.
The brief stop left uncomfortable images indelibly etched in our minds, which we could not shake. Through prayerful investigation, we discovered a new program in which Roman Catholic parishes in the United States sponsored parishes in Haiti. We got involved and soon our parish, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Bartonville, IL., adopted a Haitian parish: St. Dominic’s in the village of Marigot, which sits on the rural, southern coast of Haiti.
I hadn’t returned to Haiti since the cruise, and I honestly didn’t want to. But with strong encouragement from my wife and others, I reluctantly agreed to make a short trip to Marigot.
To my amazement, in less than a week I fell in love with Haiti and its people. Despite their squalid existence in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haitians showed me a friendliness that I had rarely seen anywhere else. Moreover, I marveled that these people had so little, but shared a strong, unyielding faith in God.
I saw an obvious need: medical attention was severely lacking. In 1985, after powerful prayer and gentle arm-twisting, I and five others from St. Anthony’s made our first medical mission to Marigot, where we treated 550 patients with Tylenol and vitamins. The satisfaction and appreciation that we received pushed us to return again and again, growing each time, and we now serve 15,000+ Haitian people annually.
We now have our own clinic in Cyvadier, where we operate six medical missions each year. One day, I’d like to see our clinic open year-round, staffed with Haitian professionals and volunteers. With your help, we can make that happen.”