Members of a Catholic church in northeast Iowa are planning to visit Haiti next month, but may have to postpone their annual mission trip. For 20 years, Saint Francis Xavier Church in Dyersville has maintained a relationship with a sister parish in a village located about 30 miles from Port au Prince, the epicenter of Tuesday’s earthquake. Pastoral Minister Mary “Cookie” Scherrman says they’ve provided the Haiti parish with supplies and food.

“We just started a water purifying system, a bucket system…we hope each family in the parish would be able to have one in their home,” Scherrman said. “So, we’ve had a lot of good things happen this past year and then all of the sudden, this earthquake happens.” The parishioners in Dyersville haven’t heard from their friends in the Haiti village, but Scherrman says they have received news from people they know in Port au Prince.

They learned the orphanage, where they stay during visits to the village, was destroyed. Twenty boys in the orphanage escaped before it collapsed. “They did get out okay, but that place is just demolished,” Scherrman said. A medical clinic that serves the village is still standing, but supplies were damaged when they were knocked off shelves.

Scherrman is hoping the Dyersville group can still make their annual mission trip to Haiti in late February. “People always come back (from the mission trip) and they’re very glad and look at life different,” Scherrman said. “I always tell the young people that (Haiti) is the poorest country in our hemisphere, but a lot of the world looks like this. So, whenever anything pops up where you can help somebody, do it. Don’t wonder about it, just do it.” The Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Dyersville was built in 1888 and features two 200 foot tall steeples.

By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester