St. Michael-St. Peter group assists twin parish that is struggling

By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

The Haiti Committee of the Church of St. Michael and St. Peter on Onondaga Hill has raised $1,250 for its twin parish, which faces serious challenges.

On Sept. 26, the committee’s trunk sale raised $735 in vendor fees and the rest in donations, benefiting the lunch program at five schools in the area of the twin parish in Chauffard, Haiti.

“Whatever we raise here,” said Kate McMahon, Chairperson for the Haiti Committee and one of the vendors at the trunk sale, “goes to Haiti. So we had a bunch of different parishioners that gave us items just to sell for the money to go to Haiti. We usually do a sea-container shipment every year, and that’s not going this year.”

For the trunk sale, McMahon reviewed the websites of the County Executive, New York State government, and CDC  regarding how to protect employees, guidelines for religious services, and how to safely host an outdoor gathering.

Rules for the trunk sale included mask-wearing and social distancing, with hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves available. The vendors set up two to three parking spaces apart.

The twin parish, called the Church of the Immaculate Conception, is in a mountain community in the southern part of the country.

“It’s been difficult in Haiti for over a year now,” McMahon said. She added that political protests “have cut down on supplies coming into the country and now with COVID-19, it’s just awful — the prices are going up and supplies are short. It’s a very challenging time there.”

Raising money for the lunch program, she explained, “is especially important now that a hurricane has washed away the crops. People will have less income without their crops to sell. With the shortages due to the pandemic and the political unrest that has been happening over the past year, prices are increasing, and families are less likely to be able to buy enough food to keep their children healthy.”

The Haiti Committee has also been working on rebuilding the twin parish’s actual church, which was built in the 1950s and was crumbling.

“It’s been dangerous for the past two years,” McMahon said, “so we finally raised enough money to rebuild the church, but the prices and the supplies have gone up so much that it’s not covering the cost. So they don’t have a church structure right now, they’re having Masses outside; it’s hurricane season and it rains almost every day, and we really feel bad about that, so along with the school lunch program we’re looking for donations specifically for rebuilding the church, because we’d like them to have a structure for worship.”

McMahon heard from the parish priest in Haiti: “The Haitian priest of our twin parish let me know after the hurricane at the end of August that people in Chauffard lost their homes, animals, and crops. Some people died. The road leading to the region was cut by the rain. Because of the pandemic, for some time, prices have been increasing and there have been shortages.”

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