Model for Twinning: St. Joseph (Indiana) & Mary Immaculate (Haiti)

At St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, the Haiti Committee is led by committed parishioners who want to support an international Holy Cross community in need. For years they have fundraised for, prayed for, and gotten to encounter representatives of Mary Immaculate Parish in Platon, Haiti, which is part of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province and is shepherded by Rev. Charles Mehu, C.S.C. Given the economic and political hardships that Haiti has endured the past few years, we commend the St. Joseph Haiti Committee for their continued support of the people at Mary Immaculate Parish and School!

Collections & Fundraisers:
As they do every year, St. Joseph took up a collection this past December on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patron of Mary Immaculate Parish.

During Lent, the parish hosts a fish fry with proceeds going towards their Haitian brothers and sisters. At St. Joseph Grade School, the students and families are invited each Lent to participate in a Coin Box collection, a way for them to unite their Lenten almsgiving practice with the Holy Cross family around the world. With the additional funds, Mary Immaculate School hoped to provide a fifth hot meal each week to their students. Both of these fundraising efforts are expected to continue in the upcoming Lenten season.

SJGS students also donate funds for a dress-down day each year, raising another $1642 in the spring of 2023.

In total, these St. Joseph parish and school efforts raised over $6,134, which is 3 times more than Haiti’s 2023 per capita GDP. The small sacrifices of families, students, and parishioners add up, allowing Mary Immaculate to meet the material needs of their students and parishioners.

Encounters with Holy Cross in Haiti:
After years of praying for Mary Immaculate during Masses and raising funds, St. Joseph was able to send a group to visit Haiti in 2018 (click here to see a short summary video). The visit was a cultural exchange, surely, but also one of interpersonal encounter, an opportunity for St. Joseph parishioners and Mary Immaculate parishioners to meet, greet, pray, and share in the model set by Jesus’s earthly ministry. In return, Mary Immaculate’s pastor, Fr. Mehu, visited St. Joseph later in the year to introduce himself and his parish to the wider St. Joe community.

Although the disruptions from the pandemic and Haiti’s internal political turmoil prevented more recent trips to Mary Immaculate by St. Joseph, the two Holy Cross parishes maintained their connection these last few years by exchanging photos and videos. These provided windows into the daily life, expressions of faith, and communal celebrations that are unique to their communities.

When Haitian Holy Cross priest Rev. Jean-Vital Blaise, C.S.C., came to South Bend, Indiana, in August 2023 to improve his English language skills, he made sure to stop by St. Joseph. With a little coordination from the Holy Cross Mission Center, he introduced himself at a meeting of the parish Haiti Committee and then arranged to present to the students at St. Joseph. Several hundred kindergarteners through fifth graders packed into the gym to learn about Fr. Jean-Vital’s home country and practice the Our Father in Haitian Kreyol. What a gift from Fr. Jean-Vital!

Twinning experiences like St. Joseph’s 2018 immersion, digital communications, and Fr. Jean-Vital’s visit are important parts of Twinning, which aims for something much more expansive than a simple one-way financial distribution. These experiences help build what Pope Francis calls “cultures of encounter.” In contrast to a “culture of indifference,” the culture of encounter asks us to direct our minds and our hearts to another person or community, seeing them through the eyes of Christ. Thus, the monetary donation from one community to another becomes just one piece of a broader relationship between Holy Cross communities.

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If your parish, school, or residence hall wants to Twin with a Holy Cross ministry, email us at to learn more.

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Published: February 7, 2024

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