Fr. Maximus (Dean of Latin America and the Caribbean) and I have just returned from a fruitful journey to
visit our fellow Haitian Orthodox Christians. Travelling first to Cyvadier, a town outside of Jacmel, to visit
the church of St. Augustine (and the school by the same name) we were met by singing students who led
us to the church and school grounds! We went class to class giving speeches in French,Haitian Creole,
and English to the high school students and then later met with all of the enrollees to share a common
meal. Our visit was punctuated with meetings with the clergy and the faithful of both of our churches.
Liturgy was served on Sunday and the following day, St. Basil’s day, with Fr. Maximus as the celebrating
priest. We had a beautiful vigil service on Saturday evening attended by many of the faithful. It was an
amazing wonder to see at the Hours before Divine Liturgy eighty children under the age of twenty
standing attentive awaiting “Blessed Is The Kingdom!” For the Sunday Liturgy there were many
communicants and over 200 people in attendance. They provided a bountiful trapeza for us, for the local
community members, and for the faithful of the Church. We left on the eve of St. Basil’s day for
Port-au-Prince; a winding journey through the lush mountains of south Haiti. On the Feast of St. Basil,
Liturgy was celebrated with Fr. Ambrose (the priest at St Dorothy’s) and Fr. Maximus and scores of the
faithful Orthodox Christians of Port-au-Prince along with the students of St. Nicholas School. The love
and hospitality of the Haitians was humbling. Their fidelity, seriousness and organization is to be much
lauded in the face of extreme poverty and multiple temptations physically, materially and spiritually. In our
discussions at St. Augustine and St. Dorothy it became clear that we have a noble and vigorous task
before us. The church itself is in need of repair : specifically the roof, sides, flooring and iconography.
The school, which was damaged by the earthquake years ago, is in need of repair including reliable
electricity and water, a refurbished kitchen, a place for the children to eat and structurally sound
classrooms. Their dream is also to have a clinic on the property grounds for which there is ample room.
We will be looking forward to completing this in the future.
Your generous support goes to the heart of St. Augustine, which is the church, which is why the
school and the faithful exist in such numbers in this small town in Haiti. They hope that this summer to
have an Orthodox camp. Their school is in need of icons, particularly of the Theotokos, in all of the
classrooms. The children would like to have a finished library so we will be acquiring books, mainly in
French (but English books also would be helpful). They need to have a science laboratory in order to
continue their record of academic excellence. We are considering alternative ways that we can secure
regular electricity, something which is a novelty in Haiti. There is much of brick and mortar, and muscle
and sweat, that needs to be dove tailed with their already exemplary efforts to function as a K-12 school
and a beacon of the true spiritual life. We already are supporting a food program, which we would like to
continue. It feeds roughly 500 school aged children one meal a day for 300+ days out of the year. At St.
Augustine it is our hope that within the next year we can secure a way to educate future clergymen and
chanters. I hope to return in May to continue coordinating the above projects as well as to run a medical
clinic at St. Augustine. When we were there last month, we were able to see 120+ patients in an
afternoon. These are people who don’t have any regular access to medical care, pharmaceutical
products and advice.
At St. Augustine school the level of education is well known throughout southeastern Haiti. Their
faithfulness to their students, their moral integrity and their striving to live the true life in Christ is evident.
About 10% of the school is comprised of orphans from two different orphanages in the surrounding area.
It is believed that the population of the church and the school will be increased with a concerted effort of
our brothers and sisters in Haiti and the Orthodox outside of their country.
In Port-au-Prince, at the lovely chapel of St. Dorothy, a similar situation exists on a smaller scale. The
church is in need of some repair, more icons, and liturgical supplies. The small school next door, St.
Nicholas, has many physical needs as well, and again, the need for more icons and catechism for the
students is our initial goal. Fr. Ambrose, the director of St. Dorothy church, his Matushka and family, all
send their greetings to each and every one of you who have been a donor, both in your prayers and with
your monetary gifts. Reader Nicholas and the parishioners of St. Augustine echo the same sentiment and
We are working towards sending a container some time towards the end of Lent or early Pentecostarion
season for many of these church and school supplies. Please contact me if you are able to send icons,
books (particularly in French), other liturgical supplies or any medical supplies. Your generosity has been
astounding and I am humbled to be in this position for these wonderful Christians who are providing an
example of true struggle in this world.
From St. John of Kronstadt:
“Watch yourself when a poor man needing help asks it of you. The enemy will endeavor at that time to
chill your heart, and fill it with indifference, and even scorn, towards him that is in want. Overcome in
yourself these un-Christian and inhuman dispositions, incite your heart to compassionate love towards
this man like unto you in all respects, to this member of Christ – “for we are members of one another” – to
this temple of the Holy Spirit in order that Christ the Lord may love and help you too; and, whatever the
needy may ask of you, fulfill his request according to your power “give to him that ask of thee and from
him that would borrow turn not thou away.”
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at our email address,by phone or by letter. Thank you for your
kindness and your generosity and may the Lord have mercy on us all.
Lazarus Gehring, M.D.