Haitian relief ongoing in Dufferin-Peel

  • December 17, 2010
haiti campMISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Amid the sights and smells of death and tragedy, volunteers from the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board found hope and resilience in the people they met in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Maria Masucci told The Catholic Register that the volunteer trips by a team of teachers, university students, plus a doctor and dentist from Woodbridge’s St. Peter’s parish to Haiti in April and then again in July were inspired by the Gospel of Matthew about feeding and clothing the poor, welcoming strangers and visiting prisoners. They were helping in the aftermath of the January earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left millions homeless.

“We know that Christ is calling us to do His work, to be His hands, to be His feet. Like (Mother) Teresa says, I truly feel we are living out His call in its fullness,” said Masucci, a 19-year teaching veteran at Dufferin Peel Catholic schools who is now a religious education and faith formation consultant for the board.

To that end, the group is continuing to aid Haiti. “Continue Christmas ... Bringing hope to Haiti,” a Dec. 28 dinner/dance fundraiser at Mississauga’s St. Christopher Catholic Church, seeks to raise funds for the reconstruction of the schools and the diocese of Jacmel. Fr. Sauveur Content will travel from Haiti to relay the diocese’s appreciation for the team’s volunteer work and accept the donations on its behalf.

In April, Masucci led a team of consultants from the board and St. Peter’s parish associate pastor Fr. Claudio Moser for a week in Jacmel to help with “the healing process.” They hosted liturgies for the survivors, built a peace garden and encouraged the people to speak about their loss.

While driving past a collapsed house, the team stopped and marvelled at three children skipping, singing and playing. The group joined in, laughing, singing and then offered the children some candy.

“It was so beautiful to see their smiles. They were so happy to be alive, to play and we were there to share in that,” Masucci recalled.

In July, 13 Dufferin Peel Catholic teachers, four university students and two St. Peter’s Church parishioners went on the trip.

By that time, Dufferin Peel Catholic schools and St. Peter’s parish had raised $20,000 to help the diocese of Jacmel. The Haiti mission group teamed up with Canadian NGO Healthpartners to bring $60,000 worth of medication and supplies. The doctor and dentist volunteers set up a clinic during the 10-day mission.

Another volunteer on the July trip, Urzula Cybulko, recalled a visit to a temporary school. Nursing students were dressed in their uniform with “a desire to learn and get beyond poverty,” said the chaplaincy leader at St. Michael’s High School in Bolton, Ont.

Walking through the tent cities which sprung up after the earthquake was an “overwhelming” experience, she said.

But Cybulko said she saw the trip as an opportunity to help “empower others” in whatever way they could, big or small.

For Cybulko, the mission in Haiti was about connecting with people.

“The key is relationship (with the poor), not how big is the cheque,” she said.

For more information about the Dec. 28 fundraiser, contact Masucci at (905) 890-0708 ext. 24135 or mmasucci@rogers.com.

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