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Haitian pastor makes trip to Caz, visits St. James Church

Father Gabriel Michel, left, presents a banner of the church towers of St. Ives and St. James to Father Kevin Corcoran, Pastor of St. James. The word “Renmen” means “love” in Creole. The banner was painted by an artist from Haiti.

Father Gabriel Michel, left, presents a banner of the church towers of St. Ives and St. James to Father Kevin Corcoran, Pastor of St. James. The word “Renmen” means “love” in Creole. The banner was painted by an artist from Haiti. Bob Hood

— Father Gabriel “Gaby” Michel from St. Ives Parish in Thibeau, Haiti visited the parishioners of St. James Parish the weekend of Aug. 25.

For the past 11 years, St. James Church has been partnering with St. Ives Parish and has helped to build a church, rectory, school, parish center and introduced a clean water project with the help of partnerships and private funding.

Each year, St. James Haiti Committee sponsors a variety of fundraisers to provide scholarships for children to attend St. Joseph’s School and to continue the clean water projects.

At this time, Park Central Presbyterian Church in Syracuse, Manlius Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church, United Church, Fayetteville and Eastern Hills Bible Church have joined St. James in its efforts to provide teacher training and supplements, books, classroom supplies, teaching aids, playground funding and now a safe water system for the school.

Father Gaby came to meet his benefactors, and thank them for their support and share his hopes for expanding the education programs, staffing a health care clinic on the school grounds and creating job opportunities through vocational training. He shared his desire to provide physical education and sports for the children, making an appeal for sneakers for the children so they can play sports that require shoes.

His meetings with the various church committees were stimulating and encouraging. Several of these members have traveled to Haiti and experienced personally the faith, courage and gracious hospitality of the people of Haiti and their strong desire for a better life for their children.

Those who have visited the St. Ives Parish return inspired and grateful for the relationships that this program has created.

Father Gaby’s visit to Cazenovia strengthened that bond.

While the recent tropical storm was a reminder of hardships endured by the Haitians, the small group gatherings with Father Gaby provided a ray of hope for gifts that will make a difference to their future.

Sister Milice Bohrer is a pastoral associate at St. James Church. She can be reached at miliceb@yahoo.com.

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