Our story begins with an invitation. Bishop Conners from the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic invited Bishop emeritus John McGann to sponsor two parishes in the Dominican Republic: Saint Peter the Apostle in El Cercado and Our Lady of Fatima in Hondo Valle. These parishes, now the official foreign mission to the Diocese of Rockville Centre, have continued to flourish under the faithful support of Bishop William Murphy for over 32 years.
Rockville Centre’s ministry has been going strong for many years. Its ministry to the less fortunate not only involves providing help to those in need but also receiving their assistance; therefore creating a ministry for the poor aided by the poor.
Among the leaders in this ministry is Sister Jane Reilly, CSJ who has been serving this ministry for the past 30 years; Sister Reilly later returned home from this ministry last year. Sister Beatrice “Babs” Barry, CSJ has been ministering to the people of the Dominican Republic for the past 31 years and continues to do so today.
In 1986 Sister Barry was able to open an inn for those who are sick and unwell. This inn was opened as “The Inn of the Good Samaritan” located in the capital city, Santo Domingo. Here those who are in need are provided with a warm, care giving place to stay in the city as they seek out medical help. This inn provides easier access to medical treatments as patients are recovering from surgery and being able to consult the best health care professionals the Dominican Republic can offer.
Lastly Monsignor John I. Cervini has been ministering to the people of the Dominican Republic for over 14 years and continues to love what he does: help those with extreme needs.
St. Peter the Apostle, El Cercado
Founded on 1877 in El Cercado, Dominican Republic; it is a small municipality located on the mountains. It is home to about 30,000 people. El Cercado translates from the Spanish to a town that is “fenced in”. The mountains that surround it provide the protection the town needs from hurricanes and tropical storms.
The Parish of St. Peter the Apostle oversees and is responsible for 85 villages which are embedded on the hills near El Cercado.
Our parishioners struggle everyday to get basic necessities. Here people still have to carry water on their heads, bathe and wash their clothes in the river. They have adapted to pests and other animals by stringing food in high places to keep them out of reach from animals. Their kitchen consists of three rocks located behind their homes. It is a daily struggle to survive since they depend on agricultural harvests which depend on consistent rainfall. In turn the crops that are grown are affected by the soil in which they are planted. In a study conducted by the United Nations on top soil used for faming, the soil received the lowest grades because of the many erosion problems. Although a great deal of property exists, it coexists with an overabundance of joy and contentment which gives people faith and strength to carry on.
A social ministry has been able to solve many problems in El Cercado. The committee consists of 45 representatives from 84 Christian based communities which operate in the rural and urban villages of El Cercado. It meets monthly in order to plan health, education, agriculture and economic development projects.
This ministry has been able to successfully implement the following:
• Construction of 16 community water systems and 1,865 outdoor latrines
• Medical clinics providing patients the ability to obtain eye exams, ultra sounds, dentistry and surgery.
• Monthly food delivery to 120 elderly and disabled people
• Senior day care center
• Creation of a town pharmacy and 18 rural outlets for low cost medicine
• Human rights workers with 35 volunteers
• Construction of 11 rural schools, one K-12 (Fe y Alegria) school, and 5 after school programs
• Literacy programs with 83 separate groups
• Road repair projects
• Health Care program with 65 volunteer health promoters
Human Rights Workers Committee
The Social ministry has been able to organize:
- Federation of 500 farmers of sustainable agriculture which include:
- 12 vegetable greenhouses
- 9 open field vegetable gardens
- 19 fruit tree nurseries
- 15 organic worm farms
- Composting, animal husbandry, bee hives, soil conservation and reforestation of mountainsides
- Women’s Micro enterprise of 20 members producing:
- Peanut Butter
- Nutrifort protein bar to prevent and combat malnourishment in children and elders.
- This product has been a major part in helping with Haitian relief efforts. People from El Cercado have been delivering these nutrition bars to Mother Theresa Nutrition Center in Porto-Prince & Savaneta just over the border. The parish has made nine trips to Haiti in order to combat malnourishment in children and adults suffering from the earthquake.
- Domestic Violence Prevention
Fe y Alegria (Faith and Happiness) Catholic School- A Jesuit Catholic School
Set on ten acres of land, this Jesuit school has been an ongoing dream. The school currently offers eight grades plus kindergarten and pre-k.
El Cercado’s education is very poor, public facilities are in a very bad condition. Because of this students often do not have class. For these children to learn they must keep up with the Jesuit School calendar. This form of discipline is an integral part of this ongoing dream.
The school currently is staffed with a principal, a social worker, and eight teachers. There are three employees who maintain the facility. In time the public school district will pay the teachers and employees, they currently are not. The parish provides and is responsible for incentives given to the staff until they officially become part of the school district.
The Parish is also responsible for the up keeping and maintaining of the school. The Jesuit education office of “Fe y Alegria” supervises and trains all staff including the director.
Donations are desperately needed for this dream to come to fruition.
U.S. Peace Corp Involvement
Driven by gravity, the aqueducts constructed with the help of the U.S. Peace Corps is a way in which the quality of life is greatly improved for the people of the Dominican Republic. When a spring is found, the men of the community with the help of Peace Corps volunteers dig ditches for the tubing used to carry the water to the villages and homes. This spring is capped and the water is redirected to a holding tank to collect the water. Depending on the amount of water obtained from the spring each home may be able to obtain a faucet. If there is not enough a village will obtain communal water faucet allowing the habitants access to water much closer than before.
Each member of the community works. It is their contribution. The church is able to provide the funding for projects like these through donations obtained from US parishioners and churches. The US Peace corp. is able to provide the supervision needed for these projects to be accomplished. Volunteers are able to experience firsthand how community life changes because of the construction of aqueducts.
Water systems are in need of repair and in need to be built. Some of the water systems range up to 5 miles in length or more. Aqueducts range from 5,000 USD to 30,000 USD and are able to provide water for 25 families to 400 homes respectively. Donations are always needed.
The Good Samaritan Inn
Founded and run by Sr. Babs Barry, CSJ, the inn provides much help to those who are sick and vulnerable. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared and served each day by loving and caring staff. At capacity, the inn is able to serve 22 people. The staff is able to arrange doctor appointments and provides transportation.
University of Maryland and Mississippi Dental Schools
On every 4th of July, volunteers from these dental schools hold a clinic at the parish for one week. The dental project has been helping the people of the Dominican Republic for 30 years. The parish volunteers arrange the hall, collect tickets which cost about 30 cents, hold flashlights for the dentists and wash all the instruments.
Eye clinics conducted in the parish hall as well, provide people new eyeglasses.
Dr. Gena instructs a course which covers possible illnesses and their treatments. This prepares 85 health promoters to deal with a health crisis on the mountains.
FUNDING IS NEEDED
Michigan Tech has developed plans for a building to be constructed next to our rectory; it will contain a reception room an office, a kitchen, meeting rooms, a new home for a parish pharmacy and a garage for a dump truck. On the Second floor the plans include the construction of an apartment with three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room which will be able to be converted into a large meeting room. The complex will have an estimated cost of $80,000 USD.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Each month, the society of St. Vincent de Paul, distributes 110 food baskets to the mountains. Clothing, medicine and transportation to the hospital for medical appointments are supervised by a 15 person committee.
If there are sufficient funds, one house is able to be built a month. 100 homes have been able to be constructed over the past 13 years.
Donations are always welcomed.
For twenty-two years, Sister Beatrice “Babs” Barry CSJ of THE INN of the GOOD SAMARITAN and staff have welcomed patients referred from the mountain villages of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana. It functions as a hospital house of hospitality for the sick, guiding them through the maze of the Capital city, Santo Domingo, as they seek solutions for their medical problems. It provides three meals a day, housing, counseling, transportation to hospitals, security and diagnostic studies such as analysis, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, sonograms, mammograms and echocardiograms.
Also referring patients to THE INN, particularly those with cancer, is Father Rick Frechette CP, Physician and founder of the orphanage “Our Little Brothers and Sisters” and Saint Damien’s Hospital for children in Haiti. Lacking radiation therapy and chemo therapy medications in Port au Prince, these patients have found at THE INN a home away from home where they can be treated.
After Haiti’s devastating earthquake a communication and transportation system was quickly organized uniting relief efforts. The DR orphanage (a sister to the one in Haiti) sent a bus and trucks filled with requested supplies and medicines every other day to travel over land to St. Damien’s. They stopped at THE INN to pick up contributions before continuing to the border and their destination. On their return they carried patients who received hospitality and services at THE INN or went on to specialized hospitals.
Thanks to you, our donors, it was possible to turn St. Damien’s wish lists into realities. They were supplied with IV solutions, catheters, injection needles, sterile gowns for surgeons, anesthesia, analgesics, antibiotics, sedatives, suture materials and plaster for casts, pressed cotton, and crutches. Tents, liquid baby formula and a highly fortified peanut butter product, “Plumpy Nut” were just some of the things that were sent in your name.
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For more information contact Sister Beatrice "Babs" Barry Many thanks!