Catholic secondary school in Haiti, with local ties, reopens for learning amid ongoing political unrest


As schools across the Diocese of Providence close for the summer, and students get a break from their studies, a Catholic secondary school in Haiti, with strong ties to the diocese, has reopened for learning following months of violence in the Caribbean nation.
The Louverture Cleary School, a Catholic secondary boarding school that prides itself on providing a rigorous, tuition-free education to academically talented and motivated young men and women in Croix-Des-Bouquets, outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, mostly shuttered its campus in early March following an outbreak of violence in which powerful criminal gangs attacked prisons and the capital’s airport.
Since then, more than 2,500 people have been killed or injured throughout Haiti as the gang violence continues to undermine the government security forces and their ability to maintain order.
“The campus was alive and spirited again,” said Patrick Brun, president of Foundation Haitian Project, of the highly anticipated return of students to board at campus after remaining home for their safety due to the increased insecurity in the area around LCS.
The Haitian Project, which supports and oversees Louverture Cleary School, was founded in the early 1980s by St. Joseph’s Parish in Providence to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti. The school began as a response to one of the greatest needs of Haiti: education. Louverture Cleary School has now grown to feed, house, and educate 360 bright and enthusiastic students from the poorest neighborhoods of Haiti.
Over the course of nearly 40 years, the school has weathered its share of challenges, man-made and natural, while government corruption has led to more than two decades of political unrest.
“We often say that we are not in Haiti because of stability, but to be stable,” said Rhode Island-based Marisa (Reese) Grondin, president of The Haitian Project Inc.
“For nearly 40 years, The Haitian Project has navigated failures of government, natural disasters and numerous other challenges and has never stopped fulfilling its mission to educate and form Haiti’s future servant-leaders.”
Grondin told Rhode Island Catholic that in terms of the situation deteriorating, the conditions being seen now are only the most recent escalation in a multi-year crisis.
“After President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021, it was clear where things could go without the appropriate support and partnership at the international level,” she said.
Grondin said that the organization’s ability to navigate the current crisis has a lot to do with its supporters, who continue to stand by their mission during this difficult time, including the leadership of many Ocean Staters who have served on its board.
“THP has also been an excellent steward of resources over the years,” Grondin said. “This helps provide the financial flexibility to do what is necessary to support our students, staff and surrounding community today, while ensuring that our mission continues for generations. And that’s exactly the plan as we work to build a national network of ten Louverture Cleary Schools across Haiti.”
I visited the campus in Croix-Des-Bouquets in 2010 following a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island nation, killing some 220,000 of the island’s then-10 million inhabitants, seeing firsthand the damage wrought upon the nearby capital of Port-au-Prince, where the iconic pink Romanesque Revival Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption was completely destroyed.
Later that year, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin officially recognized THP as an association of the lay faithful in the diocese.
“It was amazing to see what we always knew and always manifested to be overtly recognized by Bishop Tobin and the Diocese of Providence, who have been supportive in our ministry for more than 35 years,” said Patrick Moynihan, The Haitian Project president emeritus.