Brooklyn bishop off to Haiti to see reconstruction progress

Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., will get his first look at church-led reconstruction in Haiti when he visits several projects next week.

He will be representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during his Oct. 22-25 visit to three projects west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Specifically, the projects on the bishop’s schedule include the new St. Francis of Assisi Church in Grand Goave, Our Lady of Angels School in Leogane and the IDEPH diocesan school in Jacmel on Haiti’s southern coast.

The projects are being completed under the auspices of PROCHE, or Partnership for Church Reconstruction in Haiti, which was formed in collaboration with the Haitian bishops’ conference, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services following the January 2010 earthquake that devastated about 20 percent of Haiti’s geography.

St. Francis of Assisi Church already hosted its first Mass Oct. 4, the feast day of the saint. Auxiliary Bishop Glandas Toussaint of Port-au-Prince presided at the liturgy, which was broadcast on Haitian television.

PROCHE continues to review reconstruction and repair projects across the earthquake zone. Jacques Liautaud, Haiti manager in the U.S. bishops’ Office of National Collections, told Catholic News Service that 37 projects are in the pipeline, most of which are in the planning or design stage.

“This should give us a good feeling because we’re making progress,” Liautaud said.

Church agencies, including U.S. parishioners donating through a special collection conducted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Church in France and Adveniat, the German bishops’ agency for solidarity in Latin America, have about $70 million available for reconstruction. That’s less than half of the $150 million estimated in 2011 needed to rebuild parishes and schools, Liautaud said.

As projects are completed, Haitian and American planners involved in the reconstruction effort hope to leverage additional funds for future undertakings.

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