Global Sisters Report interviews Daughter of Charity Sr. Carol Keehan, who serves as the CEO of Catholic Health Association. They speak of her recent visit with Pope Francis and developments in Haiti.
It has been just over five years since the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti destroyed St. Francis de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Health Association (CHA), the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince and others collaborated to rebuild the hospital that for over 100 years has been the principal health care provider for the poorest and most vulnerable people of the Haitian capital.
Some excerpts from the interview…
You’ve had a busy January so far. You were in Rome for the Vatican meeting on Haiti with Pope Francis organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. What was Pope Francis’ message about Haiti to the attendees?
The Holy Father told the attendees at the conference that the rebuilding of Haiti rests on three solid pillars: the human person, ecclesial communion and the local church. He said that there can be no true rebuilding of a country without also rebuilding each person in his or her totality.
What were other key take-aways from the Vatican meeting?
It was encouraging to hear about the efforts of church agencies and Catholic charitable organizations from the U.S. and Europe in rebuilding churches, schools and a Catholic hospital – St. Francis de Sales Hospital. We have seen so much in the press about the lack of progress in rebuilding after the earthquake, but in fact, as Carolyn Woo [CRS president / CEO] noted at the conference, the money spent by the Catholic Church in Haiti has been effective.
You also got to meet Pope Francis. What was that like?
This was the second time I have met with Pope Francis, and both meetings have been thrilling for me. I have such high respect and admiration for the Holy Father. It is a blessing to be in his presence.
From Rome you flew directly to Haiti for the dedication of the new St. Francis de Sales Hospital. Catholic Health Association and its members raised over $10 million to help rebuild this critically important facility. Is the first time CHA and its members undertook such a major fundraising event for such a cause?
In 1990, after the fall of the Ceaușescu regime in Romania, the world was confronted with the horror of abandoned, disabled children who had been, in effect, warehoused in inhumane conditions. CHA members responded generously then, raising $2 million to fund an orphanage in Cluj, the second most populous city in the country.
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