|My dear Brothers and sisters,|
The first time I visited Haiti the earthquake of 2010 was a recent memory, and everywhere we could see the signs of rebuilding and recovery from that horrific tragic catastrophe. The ruin that was visited upon the country, and upon its cities and villages, was extreme. And it was clear to all who had eyes, or who listened to the accounts and stories of the Haitian people, that what would have been a great hardship under any circumstances was made horribly worse, and the suffering of people more terrible, by the endemic poverty which is written into the lives of the Haitian people. It felt like a wakeup call. At every construction site or rebuilt clinic or school were large signs, which identified the charitable organizations, religious organizations, governments of foreign countries, and international NGOs which had contributed to the work and its costs. One could imagine that Haiti was at a tipping point, when the eyes of the world were opened to the long years of International disinterest or geopolitical forces which had kept the country in a state of perpetual struggle, and there was now some measure of global repentance. And that repentance was bearing fruit in a renewed life and opportunity for growth.
Good things have happened in Haiti. Churches across our diocese, as well as across America and the world, have long-standing mission partnerships with villages, churches, schools and hospitals in Haiti, and our diocese has many ordained a lay missioners and friends of that wonderful country which has struggled so long. The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church, and is a member of Province II, of which the Diocese of New York also belongs. The people of the Diocese of Haiti are our brothers and sisters, and partners in ministry. Once one has been to Haiti one will never again forget the beauty of the island and the people.
Now in the weeks which have followed the assassination of President Moïse, and the political instability arising from an attempted coup d’etat, another powerful earthquake has visited death and suffering, destruction and ruin, again upon Haiti. Some two thousand people have lost their lives in the last week. Countless numbers of people are sleeping outdoors or under tarpaulins because their homes have been destroyed or are no longer safe. Many churches, the first responders to Haitian people in need, are destroyed, and in some communities that are no churches left at all. Every Christian heart must break in observing such suffering, and as we have done before, I ask this diocese – our churches and our people – to respond in constant prayer, and with generosity and godly love.
Sometimes money is pastoral care, and I ask your most generous giving for Haiti at this time. Episcopal Relief and Development is inviting donations to support the work they are doing in Haiti and will expand now to respond to the earthquake, and I commend ERD to you as a venue for your giving. However, in the Diocese of New York we also stand ready to receive your gifts on behalf of the people of Haiti, with particular attention to our already existing relationships with communities and people in that country. Donations may be made online or sent to the Diocese of New York, designated for Haiti relief*, at 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025, and we will make provision for getting that help to the places most needed.
In addition to your charitable giving for Haiti, I strongly ask your prayers for these: the Reverend Pierre André Duvert, Rector of Saint Luke’s Church in the Bronx; the Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre, Priest-in-Charge of Saint Augustine’s Church in Manhattan; the Reverend Sam Owen, Priest in Charge, and Deacons Adeline Smith and Wilson Estil, all of the Haitian Congregation of the Good Samaritan in the Bronx; and the Reverend Promise Atelon of Trinity Parish. May they, and the great number of Haitian people who worship and minister in this diocese, be living icons for us of the strength and vitality of the Haitian Diaspora in our midst. Let us give thanks for them, and join them in their ministry to the Haitian community of this diocese. With every good wish, I remain
The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche
Bishop of New York