A Canadian civil engineer with three decades of experience in project management and construction oversight has been hired by the Haitian Conference of Catholic Bishops to oversee church reconstruction in the earthquake-stricken country.
Quebec native Yves Lacourciere will take on the task of rebuilding dozens of parishes, schools, convents and community buildings that were destroyed in the Jan. 12 quake that killed an estimated 230,000 people.
Officially, he will be director general of the bishops’ recently approved Proximite Catholique avec Haiti et son Eglise, with the acronym PROCHE. Translated, the organization’s name means “closeness to Haiti and its church.”
In announcing Lacourciere’s appointment, Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Hatien, president of the Haitian bishops’ conference, said in a statement the hiring “is an important step forward in putting the necessary structures in place that will ensure that such a tragic loss of life can be avoided in the future.”
Lacourciere has been charged with building a team to ensure that new church structures will be built under modern-day standards so that they can withstand a powerful earthquake or major hurricane.
He will have about $33 million to work with. The money represents 40 percent of the $83 million raised in a special collection in U.S. parishes. The remaining $50 million went to Catholic Relief Services for earthquake relief and recovery.
Largely put together by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services with the support of church organizations around the world, PROCHE was agreed to by the Haitian bishops in September at a meeting in Miami. The program’s structure will require all parish construction projects to be approved before work can begin.
Lacourciere is familiar with the challenges posed by a developing nation. He has overseen building project in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Qatar. He also was part of a United Nations team responsible for overseeing engineering projects and business transformation in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia between 2000 and 2004.