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HAITI/ Soul of the Nations: Renewing Catholic Education

TJ D'AGOSTINO describes what Alliance for Catholic Education has done in supporting Haitian Catholic schools, and says that Catholic education serves as the soul of a nation

Basil-Moreau School in Haiti Basil-Moreau School in Haiti

Three years ago, one of the most devastating natural disasters in modern history, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, brought an already beleaguered nation to its knees, killing over 200,000 and tearing Port-au-Prince and the surrounding cities asunder. The destruction was of epic proportions in a country with no enforced building codes and poorly made concrete block structures.

In the years since, progress has been halting, too slow for many, but visible in a few bright spots. While real improvements have been made in some areas, the story in the news is almost always one of wasted efforts and missed opportunities, and a poor nation still crippled by internal dysfunction and external meddling.

It is within this context that I’m blessed to report some hopeful signs and real progress from the efforts of the University of Notre Dame and the Alliance for Catholic Education. We have focused on three things:

1. The first was to rebuild Basil Moreau School, a large school of the Congregation of Holy Cross in a particularly poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Basil Moreau is nearly completed and will be a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of the earthquake zone. A monument of hope and dreams for the children and the community, Basil Moreau is a haven, a harbor, and a holy place of grace and liberation through education. Almost entirely subsidized from international supporters, Basil Moreau is a high performing school serving some of the poorest of the poor. The day its building is completed – in about 2 months – will be one of rejoicing.

2. The second was to create a new institute for teacher training. Under the leadership of the Congregation of Holy Cross and with intimate collaboration from the University of Notre Dame’s ACE Program, the Institute Superior Marcel Bedard launched its inaugural class this past August. Serving 35 teachers in this first cohort, the Institute brings international best-practices in teacher education to Haiti, drawing upon lessons and innovative approaches of ACE’s own Master of Education program. The Institute is off to a strong beginning. Though a start-up, with all that this entails, the Institute is blessed with strong leaders and a group of top Haitian faculty of education. It is a firm foundation upon which to build. Click here for a photo essay on the work of the institute. Password “haiti”