Canadian engineer to oversee Haiti’s Church rebuild

  • January 6, 2011

Haiti churchThe huge task of rebuilding the Catholic Church in Haiti will be led by a Canadian civil engineer and project manager who will oversee the first $100 million in construction over the next three years.

Yves Lacourciere from Quebec will take over PROCHE, an initiative of the Haitian bishops to rebuild churches, hospitals, schools, a university and a seminary destroyed last Jan. 12 in the devastating earthquake that killed 230,000 people. PROCHE stands for Proximite Catholique avec Haiti et son Eglise or “Catholic nearness to Haiti and its Church.”

Lacourciere was to start the project with a four-day meeting with five Haitian bishops Jan. 7 to 10. The meetings are expected to end with an announcement of rebuilding priorities and broad timelines on Jan. 12, the anniversary of the earthquake.

“If the goal is to give hope to people in the country, to me it will be that we need to have an action spread throughout the country,” Lacourciere told The Catholic Register.

The earthquake destroyed 70 parishes, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Port-au-Prince, dozens of schools, several convents and the national seminary, reported Catholic News Service. Three Port-au-Prince archdiocesan leaders —Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, Msgr. Charles Benoit, vicar general, and Fr. Arnoux Chery, chancellor — died in the quake along with seven priests, 31 seminarians and 31 men and women religious.

Among the possible priorities for the rebuilding program will be building skills for development among Haitian workers, promoting women through employment in the project, drawing communities together by reconstituting churches, strengthening the bonds between the Catholic Church and Haitian society by repairing the hospital, university and other service institutions and reinforcing the Haitian church by rebuilding the college and major seminary.

Lacourciere estimates the total rebuilding effort will last 10 years and cost in the neighbourhood of $300 million.

The Quebec engineer with a masters in administration and a PhD in technology, estimates he has been in Haiti 20 to 25 times between the late 1970s and mid-1990s overseeing building projects. He has also worked in the Dominican Republic — the other half of the island of Hispaniola — and Qatar. Following the civil war in Yugoslavia, Lacourciere oversaw engineering and business start-ups in Kosovo between 2000 and 2004.

“I am not a specialist. I am a generalist,” said Lacourciere.

Being a native French speaker who can communicate directly with Haitian bishops and international diplomats will be an advantage on the job, he said.

“I’ve always worked on big jobs,” said Lacourciere. “But what I like with this job is that I can use a lot of experiences I have had in the past. I am more than 60 years old. So, what I want is that what I will do is not for the money. It’s for help. I’m sure that there (in Haiti) I will be able to help.”

a Catholic Register special report

Haiti's churches need healing [slideshow]

What now in Haiti?

Post-traumatic stress proves difficult

Catholic aid organizations fly under the radar

Canadian engineer to oversee Haiti’s Church rebuild

Haiti must take this opportunity to change

Crisis makes D&P rethink how it operates

Bold education plan held up by a lack of funds

Church holds community together

D&P-funded program provides pro-life solution to Haiti's sexual violence

Haitians must look to themselves to rebuild their nation

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