Haiti Outreach—Who We Are, What We Do

St. Robert’s maintains a Twinning relationship with Our Lady’s Nativity parish in Verrettes, Haiti, providing support to the pastor, Father Murat’s, ministry as he cares for a large number of some of the neediest people in one of the poorest countries in the world.  As access to education is one of the best ways to achieve a better life in third world countries, our primary area of support is a student sponsor program where St. Roberts parishioners pay for a Haitian student to go to school for a year.

For many families, this education is out of reach, so this support is critical to giving these children a brighter future.  If you would like to enable a Haitian student’s education, sponsorship for the school year is $250 for an elementary student and $450 for a secondary student.

Our program also provides lunches for many children in the schools, which may be the only good meal the children get on any given day and enables the children to focus on their work while in class.  In addition, we provide funding for maintenance of the church and chapels, liturgical and religious education materials, and occasionally for construction of new facilities.

Over the years, representatives from St. Robert’s have gone to Verrettes on a regular basis to build and maintain relationships with the people of that community, bring the love of the St. Roberts community to our needy brothers and sisters, and to see first hand the positive impact that your generosity has through these wonderful programs.  Due to political unrest of the last few years in Haiti and the current pandemic, it has been several years since we have been able to travel to Verrettes, but we are making plans for a visit in 2021 if conditions allow.

Please contact me at any time with questions or if you would like to support one of these programs.  Thank you!

Contact: Mark Bonnema | 616.250.9739 | Email

These two videos show images from the 2014 Mission Trip:  The first is about going to the market; the second depicts Corpus Christi as celebrated in Haiti – we will never be the same!

Kristen Mahoney Reflection

On our trip to Haiti in 2014, I struggled at times with the culture shock of the poverty and living conditions, at times questioning God’s Presence.

This trip I knew what I was in for and made a conscious effort to seek His Presence at all times. With Father Murat’s busy parish life, we did have quite a bit of free time, in between our scheduled activities. I spent many hours sitting on the porch, reading, praying, and journaling. And sometimes just sitting in complete silence, soaking everything in. The theme of my thoughts and writings was God’s special Presence.

On Friday, we visited the parish school in Allaire. Each classroom sang us a song, and everyone was so very sweet and welcoming.

I spent quite a bit of time with the group of young girls in the photo above. Even though we could not understand each other, we talked and laughed as if we could! They were so silly, petting my hair, holding my hand, and giggling as if we were old friends.

The girl right next to me, (my right hand is on her shoulder), was particularly attentive. She kept repeating the same words, so I sought out Jasmine, our interpreter, to be able to have a conversation. She was telling me that she was an orphan and wished I was her mother.

She asked me to eat with her. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into her classroom. She set up a chair at a desk, grabbed a bowl and filled it with what the children were eating for lunch. Spaghetti and anchovies….not my favorite, but by golly I was going to eat it!

I had a few bites and Tom found me and said that we needed to leave. We started to head down the road and I showed this girls picture to Jasmine, and asked if she knew her. She said no. Father Murat was listening, put the truck in reverse, and said we had to find out who this girl was.

I showed her photo to the principal and he said that yes, her parents had died. He spelled out her name in a notebook that Cassie was carrying. I said that I would like to add her to the students that my family already sponsors.

Later that night, I got out my journal and asked Cassie to let me see how to spell this girls name. Her name is French: Presendieu

Cassie looked at her notebook, and knowing French, asked me: “do you know what her name means in English?”

I had no idea.

Presendieu in French means: Presence of God! What a grace and blessing!