Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louise first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at a gathering in Boston. “I was happy and surprised to hear the Sisters speak about our good God. Growing up in Haiti, having a relationship with our good God was part of our being. People, young and old, in all kinds of situations would say that God is good. It was wonderful to hear these words from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and to know how deeply felt that belief is in Notre Dame,” Sister Jeannette said. I was drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and entered soon after that initial meeting."
Currently, Sister Jeannette is the Executive Director of the Notre Dame Family Education Center and its annex, the Basic Education Center in Les Cayes, Haiti. The ministry began ten years ago on February 2, 2009, when Sister Jeannette and Sister Janelle Sevier embarked on a new Notre Dame ministry.
“When we arrived, Sister Janelle and I visited with the people to learn about their concerns. We saw a need to teach reading, writing, math and self-development skills to women and families as well as to create ways for the adults to earn an income to support their families. We developed a plan that became the foundation for the Notre Dame Family Education Center,” Sister Jeannette said.
After the assessment and ministry plan were completed Sister Janelle returned to the United States. Sister Jeannette remained in Haiti to manage the Notre Dame Education Family Education Center. The Basic Education Center, an annex of the original education center, opened in 2016. Both centers teach reading, writing, math and self-development skills and set up micro-businesses to help families earn an income. These businesses also help create a path forward so that these ministries can one day be self-supporting.
The first venture was a funeral wreath business. This has proven to be a successful business, which helps people earn money for food and other basic needs. They are now in the process of creating another micro business, which will grow the flowers as a supplier for the wreath business.
“We are also setting up another new business – a peanut butter business. It will work out of the Notre Dame Family Education Center and the Basic Education Center. This will provide income for families as well as providing a source of nutrition and protein for people who come to the centers,” Sister Jeannette said.
As part of the initial needs assessment, the Notre Dame Family Education Center identified the opportunity for a bakery which could create jobs and be a source of bread for the area. The Notre Dame Mission Volunteers manage this project as a separate ministry under the direction of Sister Katherine “Sissy” Corr. The planning for the Notre Dame Boulangerie (Bakery) began in 2013 and it up and running. “It is good to have a neighboring Notre Dame presence nearby,” Sister Jeannette said. “There are many needs here. It is helpful to have these ministries in place.”
“I am deeply grateful to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and to so many sisters, associates and lay people who have been so supportive. I am also deeply grateful to the women, children and families and teachers who make up the Notre Dame Family Education Center and its annex, the Basic Education Center. It is gratifying and inspiring to work together and to teach what is needed for life. God is so very good!”
An Exciting Start
Last month, twenty-nine new teams of Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) embarked on the exciting journey of service! They spent time learning the history of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the NDMV/A program, were oriented to their new locales, and were provided resources to help them navigate their service.
Our Common Home
Our common home and integral ecology are two key phrases from Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si”. If we truly believe that caring for our common home is our call, integral ecology speaks volumes to us who are growing in awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation.