This weekend we remember Fr Tony at his second anniversary. His fruitful ministry, courage and strength, pastoral vision and compassion for others will always be in our minds and hearts. This time last year we planted a tree, placed a bench and memorial and connected with the ongoing work in Haiti.
Here follows a letter and some images from the Haiti project which will remain as one of his transformative legacies contributing to the education and well being of many children and young people. We continue to remember his family and friends who miss him dearly as we pray for him and trust that he is living in the house of the Father in eternal light and peace.
Update from Haiti on Fr Tony’s 2nd Anniversary
I hope that you and those closest to you are safe and well. With the progression of the vaccination programme hopefully you are all getting ever closer to returning to something approaching normality.
As you will have likely read in the news recently, things are anything but normal for the people of Haiti at present. Since July there has been a presidential assassination, an earthquake and tropical storm Grace. This is before we even consider the wider civil unrest and rise of gang activity, general political instability, the impact of Covid, the extreme levels of poverty and the increase in prices of basic necessities in recent years. Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list of the extremely challenging realities facing the Haitian people each day.
There is no doubting the complexities of the challenges facing Haiti, but the Haitian people are so much more than their incredibly difficult circumstances. However, I wanted to touch base with you all on a good news story! Work began in July on the construction of the first two classrooms of Fr.Tony Junior High. In early July Sr.Patricia Dillon, RJM and our local partner, held a beautiful start of project ceremony in the Fon Ibo community. Parents, teachers, students and community members gathered in thanksgiving for the generosity of Fr.Tony and asked for his guiding spirit in this project.
Each participant carried a foundation rock to the site where the classrooms will be built. A local priest, Fr.Dachemy blessed the site as the whole community gathered there. The project is currently in its final stages with the roof being completed and the finishing touches applied before, for the first time ever in the Fon Ibo, students will be able to attend 7th grade in the next couple of weeks once schools return. As soon as I heard news of the earthquake I was in touch with my Haitian friends and Sr.Patricia and thankfully, though they felt tremors from the quake, everyone in community was safe.
I was also hugely relieved that the construction of Fr.Tony Junior High was undamaged. Fr.Tony Junior High is going to give the opportunity to very many children to continue their educational journey when otherwise it would have finished at primary level. In such a difficult time in Haiti, and as we mark Tony’s second anniversary, it is very fitting that a project in his name is providing such hope and light. I hope you all as parishioners realise that this project could not have got to this point without your support and we are so grateful for that.
Our new website will be launched within the next week and you can keep up to date on the project and see pictures at www.soleyhaiti.org.
Patrick O’Neill Chairperson Solèy Haiti