The relationship between Sts. Simon and Jude and Gesu Parishes formally began in 2002. Through Norwich Mission House, Gesu received a description of the parish, including a profile of the members of the parish and its needs. Haitian parishes are invited to considering twinning through the office of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. During the first Gesu mission trip, in March of 2002, members of Gesu Parish had the chance to visit St. Jude Parish twice. The warmth with which we were greeted, as well as the overwhelming hospitality of St Jude Pastor Fr. Delischar Bichara, made us feel right at home. Upon the group's return to Gesu, a unanimous recommendation was made to the Gesu Parish Council to initiate a formal twinning relationship with St. Jude in Haiti.
During the first visit and subsequent visits, members of Gesu Parish have had the opportunity to meet with the pastor, parish leaders, the nurse and health care worker, school principal and teachers, school children, cooks, agronomists and others. They have been able to go to masses, meet with individuals in the parish and in people's homes--and to learn more and more about the people, their lives, needs, hopes, families and to foster our on-going relationship. Several hundred families live near the church and the building serves as a location not just for prayer and worship. The youngsters play soccer on a field behind the church and school; the older youth play dominoes outside the church; young people sing in the church choir or play instruments in the band, and practice and socialize during the evenings; a local charismatic, ecumenical prayer group, involving thousands of people, use the church for prayer.
Over 400 children attend the parish school. Funding for the daily meal program was dwindling at the time of the first Gesu visit in 2002. The generosity of the people of Gesu parish has ensured that the students have a daily meal of rice, beans, vegetables and sometimes meat. For some of these students, this is their only predictable meal, as their families have no money for food. Gesu parishioners have also learned how important water is to the parish. There is no source of clean water anywhere near the parish. Monies raised by Gesu parishioners have been used to hire local workers at the parish to repair a cistern next to the church and to supply the life-giving water. Other projects funded by Gesu “Gifts of Life” are so helpful for the daily quality of life for Sts. Simon and Jude parishioners. Presently, by way of a grant from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Office for World Mission, Gesu is assisting the parish with a sustainable chicken production business on a nearby property. Thank you for your interest and support of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish!