Cecelia Wagner helps distribute school supplies to children in Boc Banic, Haiti, the sister parish of St. John Vianney Church

Sharing Solidarity and HOPE in Haiti

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Thursday March 20, 2014

The parish members of St. John Vianney Church in So. Burlington, have been partnering with a parish of 20,000 in Boc Banic, Haiti, which in the span of  three years, has blossomed into the 2 parishes becoming intertwined, benefiting families in Vermont and  providing hope to the families and  children of St. John the Apostle parish in Haiti.

Boc Banic is located in a very isolated area in the eastern part of Haiti, adjacent to the border of the Dominican Republic. There are few services, no safe drinking water, very poor roads, no regular electricity and the outlook for jobs is poor. Communication with the sister parish can only be accomplished through e-mail service which is available in limited locations; since it takes time to connect, communication with each other is very much appreciated. There is no reliable mail or phone service. 

Each spring, for the past few years, St. John Vianney has collected school materials, clothing & medical supplies to send to the children of their sister parish, St. John the Apostle. Last year they were able to send 37 boxes of supplies through the Tennessee based Parish Twinning Program. They load the boxes in containers that are shipped by boat to Port au Prince and processed through customs before reaching Boc Banic. There is good accountability to make sure the shipment gets to its intended location. 

Father  Voclain, the young pastor at Boc Banic, is committed to the education of over 480 children in his parish. There would be no opportunity for education if he had not started this school. He depends on donations to pay the teachers, as the parents at this time have no means to pay tuition; these dedicated teachers are never sure if they will be paid their $90/month salary for their services. Classes are held in what we would call a “shell of a church” with outside makeshift classrooms.  Père Voclain has detailed plans and hopes to eventually build a school for his burgeoning student enrollment on a plot of land near the church.  Building the school would also provide much-needed jobs. Another very serious need  is for clean water. Children and families trudge long distances every day to a muddy river for all their water needs (bathing, washing clothes and drinking) and haul heavy containers back to their simple huts for use. 

Josh McDonald of Essex Junction, was the guiding force in establishing the twinning relationship between St. John Vianney and St. John the Apostle. In the autumn of 2011, Josh, Dorothy Myers and Cecile Wagner, of South Burlington, took their first trip to Boc Banic to forge an unforgettable friendship. Last year, Josh went with Art Krueger, a local civil engineer, to look into tapping a large artisan spring in the mountains north of the village, about 10 kilometers away. 

Our parish in Haiti has many needs but an old Haitian proverb sums up our partnership in Haiti: “men anvil, chay pa lou.” Many hands make the load lighter.


Donations of lightweight  children’s clothing, school supplies of all kinds, and general medical and first aid items are being collected for delivery to Haiti after Easter. For further information about SJV Haiti Committee contact: Josh McDonald  876-7434, Dorothy Myer 863-2433, Cecile Wagner 864-1593. Find us on FACEBOOK Haiti-Parish Twinning SJV-SJApôtre.