“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
I recently witnessed the profound truth of this Gospel passage.
In June, I joined Doug Blake and Laurie Gibbs, fellow parishioners at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville, for a special trip to visit St. Bertin Catholic Church in Petit-Bourg de Port Margot, Haiti.
Our Lady of the Lake has had a relationship with St. Bertin for more than 40 years through the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas.
The purpose of our trip, my 25th visit to St. Bertin, was to celebrate a milestone event: the first graduating class of St. Bertin School. It was an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.
Our Lady of the Lake has provided financial support for St. Bertin School since 2003. Since that time, Our Lady of the Lake parishioners have remained faithful and generous to this important mission. Thanks to our parish, during the 2022-2023 school year, more than 800 students were able to attend St. Bertin preschool, primary, third cycle (i.e., middle school), and secondary (i.e., high school) schools.
Prior to 2015, St. Bertin School was an elementary school, including preschool through sixth grade. During the summer of 2015, St. Bertin parishioner Marc-Endy Saintil wrote the following letter:
“Dear honorable friends at Our Lady of the Lake,
“At St. Bertin, we feel grateful to you every day. It’s from the bottom of our hearts. On the grounds of your help and support, we now have the most beautiful and structured school in our town. The students do not have to walk 9 km on foot every day as many of us did before. Thanks to you, they stay close to home and very safe to learn at St. Bertin School. We pray that very soon we can start a new secondary school so the students can achieve wonderful things in life. It’s very significant for students to receive a secondary education, because in every 100 students, only five have a chance to go to a secondary school. With your prayers and support, I will do everything I can to make that possible.
“My friends, I was an orphan. I attended St. Bertin School, but it was not easy for me. By the grace of God and with the help of friends from Our Lady of the Lake, I was able to complete my education and earn a degree from the university. Now, my personal dream is to return to St. Bertin and start the secondary school, only with your prayers and support.”
Our Lady of the Lake embraced Marc-Endy’s dream, and the new school opened in September 2016 with 53 students enrolled in the seventh grade class. Since then, each new school year a class grade was added. In 2022-2023, the first senior class prepared for graduation.
It is because of Marc-Endy that we were able to celebrate the first graduating class of St. Bertin School. Against all odds, he accomplished an amazing miracle that will unlock the door of opportunity for the graduating students. With the gift of a quality education, these students can now create a brighter future for Haiti.
During the graduation celebration, Marc-Endy and Doug sang a song they wrote together entitled “All Things Are Possible.” By the end of the song, everyone at the celebration was clapping their hands and singing along with them. It was an incredible moment.
All of this reminds me of a quote I once read: “Everything good that’s ever happened to me came out of helping others.” The St. Bertin graduation celebration is living proof of this. I will always remember it as one of the greatest days of my life.
Diane Huggins is co-leader of Our Lady of the Lake’s mission for St. Bertin and board president of the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, which forms and supports parish twinnings in Haiti and Latin America. To learn more about PTPA, visit ptpausa.org or email email@example.com.
To listen to “All Things Are Possible,” go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DU2BKLnq2Y.