By Mary Craig
For five years the Cathedral High School community has grown in solidarity with the parish and school of St. Genevieve des Orangers (Zoranje) in Haiti. Staff and students have visited Zoranje three times to learn about issues facing the people of the community first hand.
This collaboration has supported the parish advisory group in Zoranje in selecting education as the priority for their parish and then proposing and successfully implementing many initiatives. Each project is planned and completed by members of the community, providing valuable jobs for adults in Zoranje to support their families. These projects are also supported with funds raised by the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board's “Walking with Christ” initiative.
Monsignor Pierre-Philippe Jean-Pierre or “Father Philippe,” the pastor of St. Genevieve, has visited Cathedral every year to meet with the school community and share updates on the projects as well as help students learn about life in Zoranje.
The first successful project was the transformation of the school kitchen at St. Genevieve school. A small shed with a fire pit was replaced with a brick building including two shower rooms where students could wash safely before school instead of having to use a local stream.
Last year, risks in the kindergarten area caused by constant erosion and deforestation were addressed, creating a safe space for the youngest students to learn. Trees were also planted to prevent further erosion. That year, improvements were also made to the teacher residence to allow more teachers to be brought into the community and expand enrollment at the school.
This year, the focus has shifted to St. Francois School, one of the small feeder schools of the parish. St. Francois is located in the community of Tifon and can only be reached by walking or riding a donkey on winding mountain paths for two hours. In Tifon, lessons happen at a small chalkboard under a recycled circus tent propped up by sawn off tree branches. Improving school conditions at St. Francois School is part of a long-range plan to support the feeder schools in the parish before building a high school where students can continue their education past grade 6.
Cathedral’s Lenten SOAR (Support Others And Rebuild) campaign asks period 1 classes to “buy bricks.” Each paper brick is $5 and displayed at the entrance to Cathedral to inspire period 1 classes to give what they can to stand in solidarity with students at St. Francois. The School’s Liturgy Imagination Team has set a goal of $2500 for this year’s campaign. The SOAR campaign, based on Cathedral’s spiritual theme for the school year “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), will also support Planting Seeds of Hope, a local UNESCO recognized project where students in Cathedral’s NYAWEH program have planted and grown traditional medicines and introduced them to younger students.
Anyone interested in supporting Cathedral’s SOAR campaign can contact Chaplaincy Leader Sue O'Keefe-DiFederico at email@example.com
or (905) 522-3581 x 3020. Cheques can be sent to Cathedral High School with SOAR in the memo line.