Haitian paintings at Auctions in August at Gulf Coast Bank northshore branches

Most of our original Haitian paintings will be displayed at the various branches of Gulf Coast Bank in August


See the site here:



A Night in Haiti 2019

Mary, Queen of Peace celebrated our 7th Night in Haiti fundraiser on March 23. Thanks to our many wonderful sponsors. Find out more about our Night in Haiti.

100% of the funds received go directly to St. Benoit to fund the church and school.  This is one of two events during the year we raise funds for St. Benoit.  The other fundraiser is during Monsignor Wildor's yearly fall visits where we request a collection for St. Benoit.  We operate on a shoestring and donations are welcomed any time.  Thank you for your continued support of St. Benoit.



Night in Haiti 2019


Thank you to everyone who supported our Night in Haiti event. It was a beautiful Saturday evening and we raised $29,376.00 for St. Benoît.


During our first visit to St. Benoît in 2012 we were pleased to see the progress to complete the roof on the damaged church. Since that visit the hand of God has helped us and the parishioners of St. Benoît to make their village one they are very proud of today. Everyone takes part in making it a success. Initially, we received grants to purchase a vehicle and provide pre natal and micronutrients to the expecting mothers and young children. We have drilled a water well for all to use, built a solid concrete church, school and rectory. The school now educates close to 500 students from Pre-K to 12th grade.   The students receive a hot meal each day. Dress a Girl Around the World has hand sewn over 800 dresses for the children, 500 goats have been donated by Mary, Queen of Peace parishioners to help the impoverished families.


Each year that we travel to Haiti we bring medicines, pre natal vitamins, hosts, baptismal gowns, baby blankets, undergarments even wedding dresses. But most of all we bring HOPE to all of the people of Dessources. They are so grateful to Mary, Queen of Peace. In Haiti, each diocese does not assist the parish churches in any way. They are completely on their own. The community lives in extreme poverty and their Sunday collection is about $3.00. They have nothing to give. Just their crops so Monsignor Wildor can feed the rectory and church staff. The school has become a beacon to foster vocations to the priesthood. Monsignor Wildor has accepted seminarians for formation in the Catholic Church and they assist with teaching the children’s catechism.


Under the support of Fr. John, The Haiti Solidarity Partnership Ministry continues to focus on offering the community a safe and dry place to celebrate mass, ensure the children can have a meal so they can focus on their studies. The objective for our Night in Haiti fundraiser is to continue to educate the children academically and in the Catholic faith.


This past year has been very exciting. The funds we have sent have completed the elementary school and rectory. A large underground cistern was dug to store rainwater; qualified teachers are now on staff and live in some of the school classrooms modified as dormitories for the school session. Our support keeps the school functioning.


Our ministry has also reached out to others and inspired St. Dominic in New Orleans to adopt Mt. Carmel church and school, a 20 minute drive from Dessources. They now have a functioning school and are working on the rectory. St. Francis of Assisi in New Orleans has adopted the most devastated chapel St. Francois Xavier, in Giles, a two-hour drive from Dessources. They took this on as their 125th anniversary goal. This is one of the oldest chapels and dates to 1889. It is almost complete.


Our Lady of Fatima Chapel is another chapel that is under construction with the funds from a determined Mary, Queen of Peach parishioner, our tithing committee and Fr. Ronnie during his tenure at St. Catherine of Sienna in Metairie. We are still short to complete this chapel.


Other outreach programs have been donations from private donors to build homes and send St. Benoît graduating students to college in Haiti. We now have 5 homes and 12 students in college. The college program was initiated by Karen and Tom Sheeys non-for profit, “The Healing Eyes of Mercy Foundation.” Now, more people want to sponsor a student for higher education.


We know that education is the door to the future and this continues to be our focus. Now that the construction is mostly complete the students can study with qualified teachers. The high school is 80% complete, with a solid roof, library and fence yet to be built.


With the hand of God we are laying the foundation for an entire community to become self-sufficient one day. This process of being self-sustaining rests on our shoulders. This is not an easy task and will take decades for St. Benoît to see the results of all of the seeds planted there. Fortunately, St. Benoît has the support of a strong parish at Mary, Queen of Peace, with the continued support they will one day be a parish that can stand on its own.


We are amazed at what God has allowed one parish to do for this entire community. Thank you for your continued support. They continue to pray for us.


For additional information on our ministry please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Haiti Mission Trip 2018

Another successful mission trip was had April 4-10, 2018.

The progress at St. Benoit is astounding. When we started the ministry in 2012 we counted 50 students in elementary school.  What a wonderful experience to count 427 students from Pre-K to high school in class on Friday during our visit.  Many of the older students came up to us individually and thanked us in English for your support and giving them the opportunity of an education.  It is very heartwarming to see these students excited to attend school and succeed in their classes.

The elementary classes greeted us with a welcome song, mostly in English.  We spent time in each class room and Lynne and Maggie had prepared fun STEM lessons for each grade.  From coloring paper airplanes, using protractors to launching rockets the students really enjoyed it.


The elementary school is complete with the final plaster finishing and kitchen in operation.  They use a latrine outside and need some much needed toilets, but that will come in time.


The church was beautifully decorated for the children's mass on Friday and the Sunday rite of confirmation mass with Bishop Dumas.  There were 58 young adults confirmed on Sunday.


Monsignor Wildor is doing a wonderful job of leadership in the community. The construction hums along and all funds for projects are accounted for.  The second cistern was dug and cement was being poured during our visit.  The second floor dining room is in use and most all of the rooms on the second floor are complete.  The solar batteries were installed and the clinic enlarged.  The clinic serves about 100 patients a month.  We brought a small autoclave and many medicines the nurse had requested.


As a spiritual leader, Monsignor Wildor, not only creates disciples of his parishioners but leaders in the community.  There were two priests; Father Gary, Father Chandler and one seminarian during our visit.  Fr. Chandler surprised us during a homily in which he broke out in perfect English for us.  He also speaks Italian.  All of the lectors are students who are trained on how to formally address an audience.  Monsignors homilies are woven with spirituality and morality.  He is the moral compass of Dessource.  He married eight couples in December at a group wedding ceremony, and baptisms are held once a month.  The community is really coming together to support the parish.


The high school has seven grades and has certified teachers paid by the hour.  The facility needs water, a roof and a fence, but the kids come daily to class.  All of the students eat lunch in the cafeteria at the rectory building.  The lunch is a scant bean gravy and rice, but they are happy to receive it.  We learned that the rice he receives from Food For The Poor is now being rationed.  We found the very basic tools for school lacking such as paper, pencils, pens, geometry instruments, calculators and math tools for the elementary classes.


As the school has expanded the teacher salaries continue to be the largest expense.  Some live in the facility and most walk from nearby homes.  It is difficult to find certified teachers to live in the rural area of Dessources.  But by the grace of god, they come by foot.


From our ministry we have spun off other evangelization programs.  St. Dominic in Lakeview has adopted Mt. Carmel in Haiti.  St. Francis of Assisi, uptown NOLA has built the St. Francois Xavier Chapel in Giles, Haiti.  Karen & Tom Sheehy of The Healing Eyes of Mercy is sponsoring the first 6 students at the university level in Haiti.  The Pastorello family and private donors have built two homes on church property for the most needy.  Gregg and Letha Tepper and other parishioners have sponsored students education at St. Benoit and at the university level.  Thank you for all of your support.


A huge THANK YOU from the people of Dessource does not even cover the appreciation that they have for the parishioners of Mary, Queen of Peace.  We really do feel like we are home when we are with them.  Their warmth, grace and prayers are always with us.  


Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Travelers: Deacon Timothy, Tony Pastorello, Muguet Bolotte, Clay Drewes, Ida Estopinal, Lynne Young, Maggie Kurtz



Thank you to our sponsors for our Night in Haiti 2018

Partners in Hope

            Jill Dupont

            Anthony Pastorello

            The Healing Eyes of Mercy


Tuition Angels

            David & Paula Assaf

            Everett & Kay Bonner

            Dr. & Mrs. Richard Drude

            Chris & Cherie Erkel

            Suzanne & Bob Myers

            Dale & Janet Stram

            Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - NorthShore

            Northshore Mandeville Kiwanis Club

            J.R. “Rusty” Renaudin, Managing Director – Raymond James


Teacher Salary Angels

            Roy & Linda Bowes

            Bruce & Cheryl Gerhardt

            Cliff & Linda Giffin

            Ron & Peggy Hebert

            Clem & Mary Lescale

            Carolyn Massey

            Varney & Patricia Prejean

            Mary Ruli

            Sean Spoliansky

            Dale F. Oser, C.P.A.

            The Windsor Senior Living Community


In-kind Sponsors

            Abita Brewing Company

            Annadele’s Plantation


            Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum

            NOLA Apparel LLC

Sharing the good news in Haiti

We are sharing the good news: The rebuilding of St. Francois Xavier chapel in Giles, Haiti.

 During our first visit to Haiti in 2012 we visited the hardest hit chapel of St. Francois Xavier in Giles, Haiti.  It is about a 45 minute drive from Dessource and the road is quite difficult.  This chapel was established in 1889 and is the oldest chapel of St. Benoit.  The people greeted us warmly and we held mass under the blue tarps and sang with the choir.  It sits high on a mountain top with a spectacular view to the ocean.  It had the highest priority of being rebuilt, but not by any Haitian supporters, even the church.

 During many other visits we continued to visit our friends at St Francois Xavier and shared our hope with them that someday the chapel would be rebuilt.  The MQP Haiti Solidarity Partnership could not assist as our focus is with the main church and school at St. Benoit.  However, we were diligent in finding a sponsor for them.

 We found that sponsor in Fr. Mike Schneller, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, on State Street, in uptown New Orleans.  We met with Fr. Mike and brought Monsignor Wildor later in the year to continue the message.  Fr. Mike put it out to the parishioners who were reluctant at first with such an unknown project.  A few people expressed an interest, but they just weren't sure it was achievable. 

 Their parish council approved the support of the project in 2016 to coincide with the 125th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi, uptown.  They raised over $80,000.00 to rebuild the chapel and a small rectory.  Melisa Rey, of St. Francis of Assisi, joined us during our April 2017 trip and returned excited to complete the project.  

 Monsignor Wildor was instrumental in acquiring the workers and provided oversight to complete the chapel in time for the December 2017 visit from Fr. Mike.   All of the funds had oversight by the Tony Pastorello and the MQP Haiti Solidarity Partnership.  The dedication was complete during their December 2017 visit which coincided with the feast of St. Francis Xavier on December 4th.  Bishop Dumas was in attendance and the parishioners were extremely grateful for their new chapel and their renewed hope.

 There are many other chapels damaged in the 2010 earthquake that still await hope.  They are: St. Isadore, St. Joseph, St Peter and Paul and Our Lady of Fatima.

 Here are some words from Fr. Mike after his visit to Giles, Haiti:



Below is the picture taken December 3, 2017 of the new chapel

MQP Haiti Partnership in the News

July 2019 

The summer is still an active time for the Haiti Solidarity Partmentship Ministry.

We continue to send quarterly funds and weekly updates from Haiti.

Some of us have attended free fundraising classes offered by Gulf Coast Bank.  It is giving us plenty of good ideas how to better organize our fundraising efforts.  More to follow during our meeting in August.

We have placed all of our original Haitian paintings at the Auctions in August at Gulf Coast Bank Northshore branches.  These will be displayed at local branches throughout the month of August.

We have purchased and loaded the 11 laptops for the university students in Haiti.  We are awaiting Monsignor Wildor's visit in late July for an appeal for his Bishop in Haiti, unrelated to our ministry.  He will take the laptops back via one checked bag to Haiti to distribute to the students.

Thank you for all of your help and prayers for Haiti.





Making a difference with A Night in Haiti

Find out more about our Haiti Partnership here.



Prayers and help for Haiti

Help our friends in Haiti

Visiting our friends at St. Benoit

Video: Fr. Ronnie to St. Benoit

Hope in Haiti

Haiti faces daunting challenges, but there are many reasons for hope. Read the story here.

CRS Education Report on Haiti

Read the comprehensive CRS report on Education in Haiti click here

Haiti Update June 2018


June 2018

Micronutrient distribution now locally in Port au Prince thanks to Vitamin Angels.

St. Benoit nurses, Martine Louis and Gierda Poulard, will attend the next symposium in Port au Prince scheduled for 14 June 2018.  This is the second symposium that St. Benoit has attended.  The grants continue to be distributed to St. Benoit for Vitamin A, Albendazole, Pre natal and multivitamins for children ages 6 months to 5 years.  These are life saving micronutrients for the children.  

Thank you Vitamin Angels for your continued support of our mission in Haiti.











Members of the Haiti Solidarity Partnership will travel to St. Benoit April 8-14, 2015. Please keep them in your prayers. Below is an update from A Night in Haiti as well as a note from Msgr. Wildor:

Thank you to all sponsors and attendees of the recent "Night in Haiti".  It was a resounding success. Through your generosity we raised over $21,000.00

The funds will be used in the months of April, May & June for the following:
$9,000.00 for 14 teacher salaries
$4,500.00 for school lunch
$5,000.00 for tuition, which pays for some operating expenses.
$2,500.00 in reserve for emergencies
Please keep the Haiti Mission Travelers in your prayers during their trip April 8-14.  They are: Fr. Ian, Sr. Marina, MuguetBolotte, Tony Pastorello & Beth Baran.
A message from Monsignor Wildor:

"We thank God for the generosity of the parishioners of MQP for their participation in the Night in Haiti.  We will continue to pray that God bless them  and their hands. A special blessing for you and your family members and all ministry members who work hard to make this event happen. On behalf all the students, all parishioners of St Benoit Dessources I say to you all a big thank you with all my heart. Also thank you to Fr John and Fr Ian. Thank you to everyone who work in any way to make the Night in Haiti a reality."
- Msgr Wildor Pierre.


Haiti Mission Trip 2016 video and pictures

Haiti Mission Trip March 30 - April 5, 2016

View the 14 minute iMovie on YouTube:


Temporary Dropbox link for 2016 pictures:


Haiti Mission Trip 2015

Bishop Dumas, Msgr. Wildor, Fr. Ian celebrate mass with mission travelers, Beth Warwick Baran, Pat Veters, Sr. Marina, Muguet Bolotte, Tony Pastorello, Mark Ripple.

2015 Front of St. Benoit de Dessources.  Rectory entry to the left with metal gate. New bell tower complete.



4th grade enjoying the cards written in French and sent from Mary, Queen of Peace schoolchildren.

Morning Assembly

2nd story of rectory to left, with assembly hall in the background.

2nd story of church, assembly hall.  Roof of middle school to the right.

Updates from the 2015 mission trip


  • The 4th Haiti mission trip was very successful and we are pleased to report the significant progress at St. Benoit.  The cafeteria is now complete with plaster, paint, wall paintings of the saints of the 6 chapels.
  • The elementary and middle school classrooms are completely plastered, painted and furnished with desks and chairs.  The school kitchen, pantry and pre-K classrooms are complete.
  • The propane stove is in regular use and they are conserving propane by cooking the beans on the open fire and saving the rice for the stove.  The school lunch continues to be well received and very needed.
  • The rectory has added 3 rooms, one downstairs, plastered and painted and two upstairs in raw cinderblock form.  These rooms will be used by the many seminarians that visit and stay at St. Benoit.  During our visit there were three seminarians.  The seminarians work as teachers during their time at St. Benoit as they work towards their ordinations.
  • The 2nd story of the church is in raw cinderblock form and has a metal roof.  This will become the assembly hall.  Plastering of the floor, walls, electrical and painting will complete the space.
  • The finishing work continues on the exterior the the school, a beautiful plaster seals the cinderblock and painting will be the last step.
  • There is a nursing station off of the rectory and a full time nurse.  The room is partitioned by a curtain with a bed in the rear for those that need it.  We will continue to bring more medication for the children and vitamins during each trip.  She is administering the albendazole, vitamins and vitamin A.
  • The water system is working well and is connected to a septic tank 30 feet under the rectory.  A large cistern is part of the school structure and acts as a two story wall.  The cistern is drained and cleaned with bleach monthly.
  • The people of St. Benoit continue to say "THANK YOU MARY, QUEEN OF PEACE" they are most grateful for all of the blessings they have received.


Read more about the trip from Fr. Ian's May Peace Times "Hearts that beat as one"

Hearts That Beat as One

Fr. Ian M. Bozant

It is hard to fathom that our sister parish of St. Benoit in Haiti, when we first began our partnership with them, lay in ruins after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, the most severe one to strike the country in over 200 years, completely devastated the country.  This single event left at least 250,000 people dead and over a million people homeless.  Our parish of St. Benoit was no exception to heartache and disaster.  The main campus of the parish was hit hard, crippling the church building.  The chapels that belong to St. Benoit (6 in total) suffered severe damage, some having only their altar left standing.  After the earthquake, St. Benoit’s parishioners swelled as refugees from the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince sought a new life away from the ruins of the capital city.  In the face of this, the parish’s new priest, Msgr. Wildor Pierre struggled to provide for his flock, but ever confident that God would provide.

All of this, however, is not immediately known when one steps into the confines of the new compound that is St. Benoit Parish.  The beautiful rectory and church has tiled floor and fresh coats of paint and a style that immediately calls to mind the Franciscan mission churches of the Southwest United States.  The multilevel compound houses not only Msgr. Wildor, but also three seminarians, classrooms for 450 school children, a parish meeting hall, the church, and sacristy.  The parish has access to running water, a vital and precious resource, as well as solar power and a generator that is used sparingly.  In a country whose capital still houses the ruins of the presidential palace, St. Benoit stands as a beacon of hope and new life.  The physical parish itself only hints at the devastation wreaked upon the area just five years earlier.

Even more important than the physical building itself is the testimony of the living church present at St. Benoit: her parishioners, children, and Msgr. Wildor himself.  It would be difficult not to notice the gratitude and joy on the faces of the people of St. Benoit—a joy and gratitude that paradoxically radiates amidst the staggering poverty that surrounds them.  The people of Dessources do not have much, but what they do have, they are grateful for and they acknowledge it all as a gift from God.  Rarely does Msgr. Wildor have a conversation in which he does not boisterously proclaim, “Praise God!  Praise God!”  And just as his leadership helps the construction process at St. Benoit reach ever new heights, so does his spiritual leadership foster the life of the parish.  His gratitude and joy sets the example for those in his care and is perhaps best reflected in the children of the school at St. Benoit.  Eagerly they come to school and intently do they absorb their lessons.  All of the children at St. Benoit pass their exams—all of them.  And this is because education is more than a formality; it represents hope for them: hope that they can make a difference and change the situation that surrounds them.  For the children at St. Benoit, simple pleasures still amaze them and fill them with wonder and awe.  Evidence of this came from their amazement and tangible excitement when our merry group of seven helped them to make paper butterflies out of colored tissue and clothespins.  Simplicity marks their life, but it is a blessed simplicity.

As I come away from my first visit to St. Benoit, I come away with several important points.  First, as I told Msgr. Wildor and the parishioners of St. Benoit on the eve of our departure, what we have between Mary Queen of Peace and St. Benoit is something far greater than any monetary partnership.  It is an opportunity for us to engage the universal mission of the Church, recognizing that the Body of Christ as spoken of by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 truly does not have boundaries—it goes beyond our local parish, state, or nation: these are our brothers and sisters.  Secondly, it has been an opportunity for us to experience a growth in our own faith as we encounter Christ in these new friendships that have flowered through our 4 years of partnership.  Additionally, I myself have a far deeper appreciation for the incredible generosity of our parishioners here at Mary Queen of Peace.  Coming into this project, without having been a part of its origin, it was difficult for me to truly appreciate how instrumental the people of Mary Queen of Peace have been in helping Msgr. Wildor and his parish.  Through the support of parishioners at Mary Queen of Peace, construction on the church has been completed; construction on the school has made significant progress and continues; teachers and staff have salaries; the water well was completed in 2014 for $16,000; a goat program (another valuable lifeline for Haitians) has been established through Food for the Poor; etc.  All of this enables them to work harder and harder to create their beautiful community.  Truly, I am humbled by the generosity of our parishioners and I cannot fully convey in words the gratitude of the people of St. Benoit.  They never ceased thanking our small delegation during our visit!  I, in turn, cannot thank Msgr. Wildor enough for his great leadership and stewardship of his parish.  His diligent care and charismatic leadership are invaluable aids in moving forward in our goals.

As I close this small reflection, I encourage renewed support for the Haiti Solidarity Partnership here at Mary Queen of Peace as we move forward in our relationship.  It was clear to me during my short time in Haiti that the hearts of the people of Dessources beat in unison with the hearts of us here at Mary Queen of Peace.  Without ever meeting me, they hugged me and told me they loved me because I represented this wonderful parish that has done so much to help them in their hour of need.  Give in whatever ways you can: money, donation, time, prayer, etc.  As our Holy Fathers have repeatedly reminded us, it is in a life of self-gift and service to those around us that we discover who we truly are and that we encounter the face of Christ: “Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Love of God and love of neighbor have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God” (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est [God is Love], 15).


More pictures to come...slideshow date TBD.

CRS Twinning Partnership Manual

CRS Twinning Partnership Manual click here

Haiti: Five Years Later

Five years have passed since Haiti suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes ever to hit the Western Hemisphere.  On January 12, 2010 a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake decimated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.  It is estimated that over 300,000 people were killed and 1.5 million were left homeless.  By December of 2010, more than 8,500 more lives had been claimed by a cholera outbreak.  UNICEF estimates that 430,000 children were either orphaned or abandoned.

Today, due to Haitians working with numerous international partnerships, the country is continuing to recover.  In Port-au-Prince, there is new housing, an enhanced police presence, improved roads and better access to health care.

Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church is proud to be a small part of this recovery.  Our Haiti Solidarity Partnership with St. Benoit Parish in Dessources has made many strides since 2010.  We have helped rebuild their church, helped build a new elementary school (including a school cafeteria) and helped drill a water well for the community.  We received a grant to provide multivitamins to expectant mothers and young children, and we have sent funds for school lunches, teacher salaries and scholarships for elementary and middle school students.

We have accomplished great things and yet there is so much more to be done!  We hope to continue our partnership with St. Benoit and help to improve the lives of the approximately 5,000 families of the parish. Our committee would also like to extend a huge thank you to the parishioners of Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church for giving the people of St. Benoit hope when they were in despair.

Haiti Mission Trip 2014

Parishioners from Mary Queen of Peace seek to make a difference in Haiti

Sheila Stroup, The Times-PicayuneBy Sheila Stroup, The Times-Picayune
Follow on Twitter
on May 09, 2014 at 12:46 PM, updated May 09, 2014 at 6:54 PM

My favorite time of day at St. Benoit is early morning. I wake to the sounds of doves cooing in the courtyard outside the rectory and roosters crowing. I hear villagers calling to each other as they pass on the road, on their way to the fields where they eke out a living harvesting corn and beans.

I get dressed by the light that filters in through the high open windows of the bedroom. We have electricity only when the generator is on or the solar panels give us power. We are 60 miles and 5 1/2 hours up the mountain from Port-au-Prince in southwest Haiti, and it feels like we are in another world.

I walk up the stairs to what is now the roof of the rectory but will one day be the floor of a second story. From this vantage point, the scenery is spectacular. Crop- and tree-covered hills spill down the mountainside in all directions, and there are gravestones planted among the beans and corn. Scattered paths lead to the tiny huts the villagers call home.

One morning when I am on the roof, I see Monsignor Wildor Pierre, the pastor, by himself across the way. He has lifted his hands above his head, and I can tell that he is praying. Up here, so close to the sky, you feel like you can talk directly to God.

I can’t make out his words, but I imagine he is saying, “Thank you for this lovely morning and for sending us our visitors from Mary Queen of Peace.”

Six of us from the Mandeville church’s Haiti Partnership Ministry have come to spend nearly a week in St. Benoit, our sister parish. It is the third visit for ministry leaders Muguet Bolotte and Teresan Sister Marina Aranzabal. For Clay Drewes, Tony Pastorello, Nancy Waguespack and me, it is our first, and we marvel at the sights and sounds. Tony and Clay can’t seem to stop shooting videos and taking pictures.

The children have such big smiles and beautiful faces, and they are always singing. They love school, and the day we give 200 elementary-school students new backpacks — a gift from Mary Queen of Peace parishioners — they are beaming. They hug them to their chests and rewrap them in the plastic bags they came in. When they leave school, they wear them proudly as they march out the door.

Sheila Stroup HaitiMonsignor Wildor Pierre speaks to his parishioners at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel, one of six chapels in far-flung areas of the parish. (Photo by Clay Drewes)

This year, Monsignor Wildor has added middle school in the afternoon. When the elementary schoolchildren head home, 50 seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders file into the classrooms. He has hired new teachers who teach them French and English, math and geography. The native language here is Haitian Creole, a mixture of French and West African languages. French is the language of the educated classes in Haiti.

Monsignor Wildor’s plan is to add 10th, 11th and 12th grades for the next school year. When a member of the mission team suggests it might be better to add just 10th and build from there, he listens closely, but something in his eyes tells me he is determined to add all three grades. This year, students in the village of Dessources must walk two hours to get to the closest high school or else stop going.

Monsignor Wildor is passionate about educating the children. On the blackboard in the kindergarten classroom, someone has written: “Sans l’education on ira nul part.” When I ask him to translate, he says, “Without an education, you aren’t going anywhere.” And the school motto is: “Hard work, intelligence and discipline lead to success.”

His dreams seem lofty in this poverty-stricken country, but when we see all that he has done since the local bishop sent him to St. Benoit in 2009, we realize he not only has dreams, he finds a way to carry them out.

Monsignor Wildor went to seminary in Miami, but he always said that when he became a priest he would come home to Haiti to help his people. When he arrived here, there was a tiny chapel with a leaky tin roof. The villagers walked an hour down the mountain to get water. There was no school for the children, no rectory. But he said, “I will sleep in the sacristy of the church.”

He began to work on the church with the help of the villagers, and they had been making progress when the earthquake hit on Jan. 12, 2010. One night at dinner he tells us, “I lost everything I owned. The earthquake came and took it. The whole roof went down.”

I ask him if that made him lose heart, and his answer surprises me.

“It is OK when I lose everything because I see people with nothing living in the street, and it helps me understand how they feel,” he says.

He prayed to God to help him and bring others to help him. The ministry at Mary Queen of Peace was the answer to his prayer.

After the earthquake, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond invited parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans to partner with a parish in Haiti. Through Catholic Relief Services, Mary Queen of Peace was put in touch with Monsignor Wildor. Working together, the two parishes have done wonders.

St. Benoit now has a pretty little church with a roof that doesn’t leak, and a school that educates more than 300 children. A lunch program feeds them, and the Mary Queen of Peace ministry raised the money for a water well, so the villagers can fill their 5-gallon containers at a distribution area just down the hill from the church instead of walking an hour down the mountain.

Ministry funds help pay teacher salaries and provide scholarships for the most promising students to attend middle school. In a country where the government provides no schools in rural areas and half the children don’t go to school, an education means everything.

Our days in the village are jam-packed. There is a play day for the children complete with a wild group dance led by Monsignor Wildor, a scholastic contest, races, and musical chairs. And there are three-hour Masses filled with music, singing and dancing.

The people welcome us warmly and seem filled with joy and hope. During the Offertory of the Mass, women bring up huge baskets of bananas they carry on their heads. There are bowls of oranges, cherries, mangos and mirlitons. There is corn, cabbage, a sprouting coconut, a little hen. By the end of the collection, the altar is heaped with gifts the rectory staff will turn into meals for us.

We visit the children in their classrooms and have lunch with their teachers. Nancy, who teaches religion to sixth- and seventh-graders at Mary Queen of Peace School, has brought flashcards, books about Haiti, and laminated maps for the school. When the teachers see maps of Haiti written in French, their eyes light up, and they say “Ahhh” in unison. They can’t wait to share them with their students.

One day we travel many miles to Our Lady of Fatima, one of six chapels for parishioners in outlying areas. It is merely a collection of wooden posts with mismatched tarps for a roof, a dirt floor, and walls made out of palm fronds. But the posts are decorated with flowers, and there is a nice breeze. More than 80 people sit on benches in the humble open-air chapel, waiting for Monsignor Wildor, and I think of Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.”

We also visit Mount Carmel, a parish that has no sister parish in New Orleans. The pastor tells us he had to close the high school because he couldn’t pay the teachers, and the elementary teachers often work without getting paid. It is much like St. Benoit was the first year mission members visited, and Sister Marina wants desperately to find a parish in the New Orleans area willing to form a partnership with Mount Carmel.

“There is so much need here,” she says.

On Saturday, we go to the market where the villagers of Dessources gather to buy, sell and exchange fruits and vegetables, bread and beans, goats, chickens and pigs. On a hillside just before we reach the makeshift booths is a parking lot for the dozens of donkeys who serve as local taxis and pickups.

The market is a wild place, with people shouting, music playing, goats bleating and young men cruising along the unpaved street on motorcycles they use to transport people up and down the mountain. The sun beats down, and the smell of gasoline mingles with the smells of charcoal and food cooking.

Sunday, after Mass, with help from some of the village women, we hand out vitamins to young mothers and give worm medicine to children ages 1 to 5. Sister Marina and Muguet, both fluent in French, explain that the medicine will help the children stay healthy and that they should take only one vitamin pill each day.

I, not being fluent in French, admire babies and hand out blankets and dresses sewn by women in St. Tammany Parish.

Later, we meet with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to give them the first-aid kits assembled by Max Tepper, a young parishioner at Mary Queen of Peace who is working on becoming an Eagle Scout. Muguet and Sister Marina explain what each item is before handing them out. Chances are the children have never seen a Band-Aid.

Throughout the days, I keep noticing one young woman who is a leader. I hear her singing and playing the bongo drum in church and also in the church courtyard where the children gather to play. I see her making signs that say, “Welcome Mary Queen of Peace,” and watch her lift up little children in her arms.

I learn that Nerlyne Charlotin is 19 and in the eighth grade. She is first in her class, and the students at St. Scholastic Academy in Covington are paying her middle-school tuition.

When Sister Marina and I sit down to talk to her, Nerlyne tells us she loves school and she likes learning French and English. She sings for us — “Love Doesn’t Think Twice,” a Celine Dion song. When I ask how she learned it, she says her English teacher wrote the words on the blackboard and then the students listened to the music on his cell phone.

She tells us she wants to finish high school and go to college in Port-au-Prince. She has an aunt there she can live with. She wants to be a nurse and come home to Dessources to help the people.

“Maybe when I get through nursing school, there will be a hospital here,” she says, smiling. “That would be my dream job.”

Now, the nearest hospital is a bumpy 2 1/2 hour drive down the mountain on an unpaved road, and one of Monsignor Wildor’s dreams is to build a medical clinic in Dessources. It will be eight years before Nerlyne can finish nursing school. I think that gives him time to build a clinic.

Maybe when I get through nursing school, there will be a hospital here. That would be my dream job." -- Nerlyne Charlotin, eighth-grader

During our visit, Monsignor Wildor tells us, “All we can give you is our prayers and our love.” But that is so much, and the people of St. Benoit have given us so much more. When they thank us for our “sacrifice,” we tell them, “All we have done is open our hearts.”

On our last night, Monsignor Wildor throws a party for us and his 32 staff members. There is a dinner and music, laughing and dancing. At one point Mertyl Fritznel, the young seminarian who is principal of the middle school, stands up and thanks us one more time.

“This is one of the best miracles in Haiti,” he says.

We feel blessed to be a part of it.

Haitian Crafts For Sale

These items are available for sale to benefit the parishioners of St. Benoit, Dessources, Haiti.  All items are located in the parish center, room 2 in the glass case.  There are envelopes provided for you, please make all checks payable to "Mary, Queen of Peace" and note "Haiti Crafts" on the memo line.  Jane Brown manages the crafts and can be reached at 985.373.2305 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Original Haitian Art priced as marked $50-125



Photograph by Robert Dutruch $200 minimum donation


Horn Cuff Bracelets, Earrings and Necklace priced as marked

Shell Bracelets $10

Handmade Wooden Bowls from famous Haitian artist Einstein Albert ($75) , sells at Macy's NYC for $90.00

Hand Painted Metal Key Ring Holders $15

Hand carved Wooden Crosses with Lamb $15

Blank Note Cards of Children of St. Benoit set of 12 for $10

Leather Key Chain of Haitian face with headpiece $3

Hand carved Soapstone Sculptures approx 6-8" $24

Haitian Raw Cocoa with instructions for delicious hot chocolate $5

Miscellaneous items

Video: A look at St. Benoit

Pictures from St. Benoit 2014

Here are some pictures from our visit to St. Benoit in Haiti. More to come!