A successful 15th Annual CINCH (Central Indiana Churches for Haiti) Gathering was held on Sun Oct 14 at St. Mary Cathedral in Lafayette, IN. We look forward to seeing you next year!
Mission Trip to Haiti
Our next Parish Mission Trip to Haiti will be from Dec 27, 2018-Jan 3-2019. Contact Jeff Newell for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Song of Hope Concert and Dinner
Parish Twinning Program of the Americas (PTPA)
ARTICLE FROM the NASHVILLE DIOCESAN NEWSPAPER ON 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE of PTPA
Conference attendees encouraged to ‘go forth as missionary disciples’
Tennessee Register, September 7, 2018
|Msgr. Raymond East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Washington, D.C., speaks during an opening session of the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas 40th anniversary conference, held in Nashville Aug. 24-26. He holds a copy of Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel,” and encouraged participants to read it on their mobile devices and take its teachings on mission with them to Haiti and Latin America. Photos by Theresa Lauence|
With spontaneous acapella songs and call and response “Amens,” keynote speaker Msgr. Raymond East energized and inspired Parish Twinning Program of the Americas conference attendees in their mission to go to the peripheries to serve and accompany others.
The Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, which is dedicated to establishing long-term twinning relationships between Catholic parishes in the U.S. and parishes in Haiti and Latin America, hosted its 2018 national conference and 40th anniversary celebration in Nashville Aug. 24-26.
The theme for the conference, attended by about 275 people from about a dozen states, was “We are One … The Blessings of Twinning: Celebrating our Past, Envisioning our Future.”
Msgr. East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Washington, D.C., which is twinned with an impoverished parish in Haiti through PTPA, told conference attendees to “be filled with joy on the journey to serve in Haiti,” and to “go forth as missionary disciples.”
Msgr. East, a nationally known speaker, encouraged anyone planning to travel to Haiti on mission to read Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel,” to better serve as “spirit-filled” people, able to “recognize Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
One theme throughout the conference, which Msgr. East touched on, was the idea of “accompaniment,” seeing those you serve as equals and not helpless or “less than.”
Following Msgr. East, Deacon Gerry Keenan from Divine Mercy Parish in Winnetka, Illinois, spoke on “Seven principles of faith-filled twinning relationships.” His number one piece of advice was, “It’s all about relationships,” or in the Haitian-Creole language, “Kozman mande chez.”
In a sense, that’s what the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas has always been about, more than just sending a check to a worthy cause. When founder and executive director Theresa Patterson, a parishioner at St. Henry Church in Nashville, first started the program in 1978, along with the late Harry Hosey, she admits she was “pretty short on vision” and “never imagined it” growing as it has to include 300 twinned parishes in the U.S., Haiti, Latin America and beyond.
Keeping in mind Hosey’s dream that “if every parish in North America would adopt a parish in the Third World, then we could really begin to change the world,” Patterson has seen the twinning program make a tangible difference in the health and well-being of many communities.
But it could do more, Msgr. East told conference participants. “We ought to have thousands of parishes involved,” especially in “under-twinned and over-resourced” dioceses like the Archdiocese of Washington, he said, challenging the PTPA to double its twinned parishes.
|This map shows a number of the parishes around the country that have relationships with sister parishes in Haiti, Latin America and beyond, established through the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, which was founded in Nashville in 1978.|
With a skeleton crew of staff, which has primarily relied on one person, Patterson, for the last four decades, the PTPA has been somewhat limited in how
fast it can grow its twinned parishes, and how much support it can offer.
Patterson was honored as the “Mother Theresa of Haiti” for her 40 years of dedicated services at PTPA’s 40th anniversary dinner on Saturday, Aug. 25.
As the Parish Twinning Program moves forward, some future goals include fostering better communication between twinned parishes, such as making webinars available so parishes across the country can more easily share ideas and best practices about everything from clean water initiatives to dental missions.
Increasing partnerships with other well-established organizations like Food for the Poor and the U.S. Catholic Mission Association, both of which had a presence at the conference, might also play a part in PTPA’s future. “There might be others we should collaborate with if it benefits both organizations,” Patterson said.
Another goal for PTPA is to get more young people involved with the program, Patterson said, noting that most conference participants were age 50 or older. A few breakout sessions specifically designed to reach out to a younger generation were well received, she said. “I think it’s invigorating to people to get more youth involved.”
Parish twinning relationships often start with the American parish taking up a second collection at Mass and sending the money to the Haitian parish to support building projects or educational needs. But the strongest relationships are formed through personal encounters, when American parishioners commit to making regular visits to their sister parish, focusing on long-term projects, like sponsoring children to attend school, establishing a medical clinic or helping villagers start sustainable, job-creating projects, in a country where the majority of the labor force does not have formal jobs and many people survive on less than $2 a day.
The latter, Patterson said, could include a coffee co-op, reforestation project, or prepared food operation. These types of projects are often the most challenging because “there are so many obstacles in Haiti, and you have to have a lot of dedicated people to keep them going.”
As it moves forward, the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas will continue to rely on the dedicated people that have kept it running for so long, like Patterson, as well as looking to more young people to help grow more twinning relationships.
“We are called to go to the peripheries,” Msgr. East said, and when the hard work is done, “reap the harvest with joy.”
Editor’s Note: For more information about the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas visit www.parishprogram. org.