Backgrounder: Canadian Religious and their links with Haiti

Tuesday, December 13 2011

backgrounder2-enA number of Canadian religious communities have been present in Haiti for many years. As well, there is a strong link between the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) and the Haitian Religious Conference.

The CRC is the national association of leaders of religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in Canada. Established in 1954 with its office located in Montreal, it serves 200 member congregations and 284 women and men major superiors.  

Canadian religious serve in Haiti’s urban centers as well as rural areas. They include the Sisters of Saint Anne, the Sisters of Charity of Saint-Hyacinthe, the Servantes du Coeur Immaculé de Marie (Soeurs du Bon-Pasteur de Québec), the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and the Society of Jesus. Their service to the people of Haiti involves schools, orphanages, community development projects and seminaries. They have been at the forefront of human rights work in that country throughout the years.

Many religious communities lost their residences, schools, and orphanages in the January 2010 earthquake. Forty-seven religious and Church personnel died in the earthquake, including the Archbishop of Porte-au-Prince, the Most Reverend Joseph Serge Miot.  Following the earthquake, Canadian religious communities have continued to play a central role in Haiti and are active in the country’s reconstruction efforts. Together with Caritas Haiti, Canadian religious communities and the Haitian Religious Conference have received approximately $1.4 million in the year immediately following the earthquake from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace for projects that include:

In addition, CCODP assistance following the earthquake has included financial help to a Haitian religious community, the Petits Frères de Ste-Thérèse, for distributing agricultural seeds and tools.

From May 25 to 29, 2011 a delegation of General Superiors from the CRC participated in a solidarity mission to Haiti.  There, they met with representatives of the Haitian Religious Conference. In addition to participating in sessions on the sociological, political and ecclesial reality of the country, they learned more about reconstruction efforts and visited some of the devastated areas and tent cities in Port-au-Prince.  Upon their return to Canada, they published a message to the women and men religious of Haiti: “Building Religious Life in Haiti on Solid Ground”.

The President of the CCCB, Archbishop Richard Smith, its Vice President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, and Assistant General Secretary Mr. Bede Hubbard will participate in a solidarity mission to Haiti which is being organized by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, December 14-21, 2011.