With flowering trees and green lawns, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church on June Street in Worcester appears a safe-haven.
Despite worry-free appearances , however, St. Charles was feeling the tremors of this week's quake in their concern for Peter R. Faford, the deacon that they share with the diocese in Les Cayes, Haiti.
In an interview with this Examiner last summer, Deacon Faford explained how he and his wife Linda wound up living in one of the poorest nations in the world. Here are excerpts from that interview:
“We had decided to visit Haiti for our 25th wedding anniversary.” Deacon Faford explained in an email. At the time, their lives in Central Massachusetts included jobs, a home and three children.
“I was very open to the trip but Linda was a little hesitant.”
However, as the departure date drew nearer, he, too, began to have doubts. “My fear was, once I saw Haiti and how the people lived I knew our lives would change.”
19 years later, the couple is still living in Les Cayes, Haiti. And much to the relief of the Worcester parishioners who know them, it appears that they are ok.
But their pre-quake story is still timely and worth telling.
After two years at the official Diocese of Worcester mission house, Kay Sen Pol ( St. Paul’s House), Deacon Faford accepted a position with Fr. Marc Boisvert, O.I.M., the founder of Pwoje Espwa or Project Hope.
Project Hope is a non-government organization comprised of a pre-school, primary school, secondary school, a professional school and orphanage for over 600 Haitian children. Two other distant schools; one in Camp Perrin and the other in Tiburon also receive assistance. All children on campus receive education and food which is sometimes shared with neighboring children.
Food is the single most critical need in Haiti. In his first return visit to Worcester, parishioners at St. Charle's could not help but note their Deacon's emaciated appearance.
“I had lost 42 pounds” he said, adding that his wife lost 15. A trim man to begin with, Deacon Faford shared his gimmick-free dieting plan.
“It was very difficult for us to sit at a table and eat while hearing children crying next door for lack of food. We found ourselves making meals for them and not eating ourselves.”
Sometimes they would go days without food.
“I guess one can say we are in solidarity with the poor,” he said.
That solidarity extends into the middle-class American parish which still lists him on their weekly bulletin with the addendum “now serving in Haiti.”
He noted that his Worcester connection to St Charles has been an important source of assistance.
“Over the years, (they) have supported us in prayer and financially. "
He added that friends in Worcester can visit the website www.freethekids.org, “to see how we are doing.”
“These people don’t have a voice,” the deacon said.
Maybe the silver lining in the dust-cloud of the earthquake is that for now, at least, Haiti is being heard.
For more information on the earthquake and how you can help, check out freethekids.org.
Ideas or comments? Contact Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org