SENECA—A former diocesan deacon who once served three parishes in the Greenville Deanery is leading an ambitious effort that, if successful, would significantly expand educational opportunities in Haiti.
Deacon Patrick Moynihan, president of The Haitian Project, has launched a 20-year campaign to open a tuition-free Catholic secondary school in each of Haiti’s 10 dioceses.
Deacon Moynihan, who served at St. Paul the Apostle in Seneca, St. Francis in Walhalla, and St. Andrew in Clemson from 2008 to 2010, said The Louverture Cleary Schools Network project will be a “game-changer” for a country mired in poverty and political chaos.
The nine new schools would be modeled after a Catholic co-educational boarding school in the archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. That school, funded through The Haitian Project, grew from 60 students in 1987 to 350 students, mostly under Deacon Moynihan’s leadership. The school boasts a 98 percent pass rate over its 30-year history, which is four times the national rate, he said.
According to a press release from The Haitian Project, the non-profit organization sees the project of opening a network of Louverture Cleary Schools as an opportunity to galvanize support around a broader movement to direct more funding to education in Haiti overall.
“We are going to have to move education higher on the list of things people choose to fund when helping developing countries,” Deacon Moynihan said. “Currently, the split is about 80 percent for immediate services and relief … and less than 20 percent for education and social institution-building.
“That mixture has proven ineffective at creating systemic long-term change. If we can increase the amount going to education, we can be of better assistance,” he said.
According to figures from the Haitian Ministry of External Assistance, between 2010 and 2015 less than 2 percent of U.S. humanitarian aid to Haiti went toward education.
Deacon Moynihan said The Haitian Project will work with other organizations operating parochial elementary schools in Haiti.
The $73.1 million initial investment includes $3 million in construction costs, around $27 million for start-up costs, and $3 million in endowment for each school.
“We want each of these schools to be professionally supported and able to operate with funds similar to the amount of money supporting our current school,” he said.
The schools will be built in groups of three, each group taking 5 years to complete
Once all the schools are up and running, The Haitian Project will need to raise an additional $10 million each year for operation.
Deacon Moynihan, who still has family in the Upstate, including a sister who attends St. Joseph Church in Anderson, said funds The Haitian Project currently receives from the Diocese of Charleston and several parishes, including St. Paul and St. Andrew, won’t be used in the school expansion project. They expect support from large philanthropy.
Photo provided: Students show off their diplomas from the Louverture Cleary School in Haiti.