The Archdiocese of Baltimore has had a relationship with the Diocese of Gonaives for over a decade. Following several trips to Haiti, Cardinal Keeler designated Gonaives as a partner diocese of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1997. He charged Msgr. Galeone, then Director of the Missions Office (then Office of the Propagation of the Faith), to develop programs likely to strengthen the relationship between the two dioceses.
In 2001, Deacon Rodrigue Mortel, M.D. was named Director of the Missions Office. One of his priorities was to develop and expand the Baltimore/Gonaives Haiti Project. The Outreach project began with the building of the school, The Good Samaritans by the Mortel Family Charitable Foundation. A trade school was also built to provide a variety of vocational skills to young men and women. In addition, a literacy school serves adults of both sexes in a four year program. In 2011, we opened a secondary school, James Stine College, to serve students in grades 7 through 13 and as of 2015, we opened a preschool to provide a headstart on early education for the poorest of the poor children around the Saint Marc region of Haiti.
In addition to the school-level diocesan partnership, a parish-level partnership program provides opportunities to Baltimore parishes to join partner parishes in the Diocese of Gonaives and assist them in their feeding program and their projects of education and evangelization. It’s through the building of close relationships between the parishes of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Gonaives, Haiti that the Outreach project hopes to accomplish its mission of support and education. The schools, built with the support of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, are operated by the Mortel High Hopes for Haiti Foundation.
In Haiti, the data on malnutrition, infectious diseases and illiteracy are alarming. Any help to relieve the daily suffering of hopelessness and the bondage of illiteracy can bring new life to this small nation. An educated population is needed to effect change which is why we have established a focus on schooling the poorest of the poor as well as a mission of accompaniment for our parish-to-parish relationships.