FARMINGTON —  Members of the St. Joseph’s/St. Rose of Lima Haiti Ministry are waiting to learn what they can do to help their sister church in St. Laurent Parish in Haiti, following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake Aug. 14 that killed thousands of people.

The College St. Laurent in Haiti, a secondary school in the St. Laurent Parish, was significantly damaged Aug. 14 in a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The St. Joseph’s/St. Rose of Lima Haiti Ministry in Farmington and Jay helps support the parish. Submitted photo

The ministry has helped support the parish for about 17 years.

“We have a vital and ongoing connection with some people in Haiti through an effort called Parish Twinning,” the Rev. Paul Dumais wrote in an email.

The  St. Joseph Parish in Farmington was paired with St. Laurent Parish in the Diocese of Les Cayes, Haiti, in 2004. St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay came on board in 2005. The parishes were connected through the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas.

The St. Laurent Parish consists of the main church, secondary and primary schools, and satellite mission chapels.

“We recently wired ($4,000) to the pastor of St. Laurent Parish once we knew the banks were operative,” Dumais said. “This represents an ongoing commitment every other month.”


There have been hundreds of aftershocks and at least 26 registering over magnitude 4.0, Janet Brackett, coordinator of the Haiti Ministry, said Wednesday. The ministry consists of parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Farmington and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Jay and Dumais, pastor of both churches.

St. Laurent is in the South Department of Haiti with the closest city, Les Cayes, about 4 to 5 miles away, said Brackett, of New Sharon.

She said what she has learned so far is that the main church has sustained cosmetic damage, the rectory where the Rev. Jean Clausel Lima lives has cracks in the first-floor walls. As far as she knows, the pastor has not returned to the rectory because of the continued aftershocks, she said. Lima is also responsible for three missionary chapels in the outlining areas.

Brackett said St. Laurent Church, which is the main church, has sustained cosmetic damage. The primary school near the church is fine but the secondary school, which serves middle and high school students, has significant damage.

“There are major cracks in the first-floor walls,” Brackett said. About 80 children attend the primary school and about 400 students attend the secondary school.

Children and their teacher work in a classroom at the primary school that Farmington and Jay Catholic parishes helped finance in St. Laurent Parish in Haiti. Submitted photo

The ministry helped finance construction of the primary school in 2018 and helped furnish it.


Many homes were damaged, according to the Rev. Lima, she said.

“At this point, we are waiting for the situation to calm down because our practice is to respond to needs that they identify,” she said. “In order to maximize our resources, we will wait to see how we can best help.”

The money sent to Haiti helps supplement salaries of school teachers and three health clinic workers.

“Both Maine parishes have been incredibly supportive and generous,” Brackett said.

Once things settle down and they hear how they can help, the Haiti Ministry will discuss the needs and available funds and, if necessary, what fundraisers can be done.

“We do little fundraisers all year,” she said.


They sell items made by Haitian artisans at the Farmington Farmers Market on Main Street on the first and third Saturdays of the month. They will be there Sept. 4.

Brackett has been to Haiti over 20 times. Sometimes she goes by herself and sometimes with combinations of people from both parishes. Typically the groups go once a year.

“I typically go twice a year,” she said.

Catholic parishes in Farmington and Jay help support the St. Laurent Church in St. Laurent Parish in Haiti. A magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked Haiti on Aug. 14 and killed thousands of people. Submitted photo

“It isn’t clear when we will be available to visit again,” she said. “The pandemic, along with political unrest and an increase in violent crime, have made travel to Haiti unwise at this time.”

For now, they stay in touch with friends there.

Brackett said she has not heard of any casualties in the St. Laurent Parish area but has heard of them in nearby Les Cayes.

The Maine ministry’s Facebook page is

Those who would like to help the ministry assist St. Laurent Parish can send donations to Haiti Ministry, St. Joseph’s Church, 133 Middle St., Farmington, ME 04938.

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