A Passionist Parish Reaches Out
to a Passionist Mission
On the Sunday after the earthquake in Haiti, Bishop Michael Burbidge directed that all second collections in the Diocese of Raleigh
be taken for the relief of the suffering Haitian people.
I decided to preach on our solidarity with these people and read a letter that our Passionist Fr. Rick Frechette had just sent to our Province. The parishioners were deeply touched hearing how Fr. Rick left his dying mother's bedside to be with the victims of the earthquake.
The letter mentioned the lives lost and the devastating damage to the clinic and St. Damien's Hospital for Children. That second collection brought in over $30,000 for Haiti. But there is even more. A number of doctors and medical personnel volunteered to go to the Passionist Mission in Haiti in order to offer their services as surgeons, doctors and nurses.
St. Peter's Passionist parish is located in Greenville, North Carolina, which is home to one of the finest medical facilities in the south, Pitt County Memorial Hospital. Over six hundred medical doctors live in this town. Many of our parishioners work at PCMH.Bishop Burbidge and Fr. Justin bless the medical team bound for Haiti.
Dr. Greg Murphy was one of the first to ask if he could be of assistance to Fr. Rick in Haiti. Greg called our Provincial, Fr. Joe Jones, who had been pastor here. Fr. Joe put him in contact with Fr. Jerome Vereb, who used all his diplomatic skills to arrange through the State Department and the various Vatican Nunciatures for a relief mission from the Passionist parish of St. Peter to the Passionist Mission Hospital in Port-au-Prince.
Fr. Jerome arranged for jets, passports and security all along the way. Fr. Rick was contacted and after complicated negotiations, a medical team of eleven was set to leave on Thursday, January 28th. Six of the doctors, surgeons, registered nurses and a retired medical administrator are members of our parish, Dr. Gregory Murphy, Dr. Mark Dellasega, Dr. Kurt Voos, Dr. Marcus Albernaz, Robert Klug RN, and Gregg Tacozza.
Upon learning of this heroic venture, Bishop Burbidge came to St. Peter's for the commissioning. Over three hundred parishioners came out for that noon service led by the bishop, who blessed the volunteers and presented each with a cross. "We are reliving a practice of the early church—the eager sending of its members to other peoples. This will strengthen our bond of communion with
the Church in Haiti. I am so proud of the people of this diocese for responding to this plea for help. In the midst of so much hardship, I believe you will return from your mission and speak only of miracles."