Bishop DiMarzio Expresses Confidence in Funding Structure
WINDSOR TERRACE — Parishioners who donate to special collections in the Diocese of Brooklyn for Haiti disaster relief can feel confident their donations will reach their intended recipients, despite the turmoil in that nation, officials said.
Persistent reports of armed gangs hijacking trucks filled with relief supplies intended for hurricane or earthquake survivors in the impoverished Caribbean nation have long been cause for alarm. Those concerns reached such a fever pitch following the deadly Aug. 14 quake that Haiti’s National Police announced the deployment of additional officers to the country’s southern peninsula to protect relief shipments.
In addition, reports of delivery problems with the billions of dollars in aid governments pledged to Haiti after the severe quake of 2010 also have been remembered as reasons why would-be donors may be hesitating now.
But Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has expressed confidence that current donations from the diocese will get to their Haiti destinations — and be put to good use — because of the structure the Catholic Church in the U.S. has set up.
The diocese held special collections at Masses on the weekend of Aug. 21-22 and planned to do so again on Aug. 28-29. Bishop DiMarzio said he had no set amount he hoped to raise, but he predicted the collections would likely generate at least $100,000.
Father Patrick Keating, economo and vicar for Financial Administration for the diocese, said that in the past, parishioners have been “very generous with their donations.”
Donations will be placed in a diocese-established fund called the Compostela Fund, which, the bishop explained, is akin to a bank where money can be stored until it is ready to be distributed.
“This is like the bank for the diocese, where we deposit money and it’s invested and then we have access to [it],” Bishop DiMarzio said.
The money specifically targeted for Haiti Relief will be taken out of the Compostela Fund and sent to PROCHE, an organization set up by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Catholic Church in France following Haiti’s 2010 disaster. The partnership is geared to ensure that funds go directly to religious entities. PROCHE is an acronym for “Proximite Catholique avec Haiti et son Eglise,” or “Catholic closeness with Haiti and her Church.”
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami, who has worked with PROCHE, said funds directed to the organization will be used strictly to rebuild churches and Catholic institutions in Haiti.
While governments will assist Haiti with emergency aid, “no government is going to give the Church money to rebuild a church or a church facility,” Archbishop Wenski said. “So the only people they can count on is the Church, and we have to help the Church to be able to do that.”
Over the years, PROCHE funds have helped rebuild 35 structures, including churches, rectories, schools, and meeting halls. “So we have a good track record,” Archbishop Wenski said.
Bishop DiMarzio backed up Archbishop Wenski’s support of PROCHE, saying: “We are aware — very much assured — that this is an organization that has produced. There has been no corruption with it. It’s overseen, audited, and surveyed all the time. So that’s why I have confidence in the structure.”
Bishop Pierre André Dumas, of the Diocese of Anse-a-Veau and Miragoane in Haiti, said he is grateful for the help that will arrive from the Catholic Church in the U.S.
“We heard that, and we say thanks to our friends, the bishops, and all the Catholic faithful there in the United States, and all the people of goodwill who want to help Haiti and their heritage and diversity. I am sure God will give them something in return,” he said.
Father Keating said donations to Haiti are important because the country desperately needs help.
“The country has been through so much — earthquakes, hurricanes, political unrest — and when you see the pictures of churches that have been destroyed, it’s heartbreaking,” Father Keating said. “Yet the people of Haiti continue to be filled with hope.”
The earthquake destroyed 40 churches in Bishop Dumas’s diocese alone.