Students Attend Service Trip in Haiti Over Spring Break

by Public Relations | Mar 02, 2017

During spring break six students, Ashley Dubos of Chestnut Ridge; Mitchell Farrell of Lower Burrell; Claire Gribik of Clarion; Gerald Ngo of Lititz; Philip Ripepi of Jefferson Hills; and Benjamin Watt of North Huntingdon will be dedicating their time off to the service of others. The trip combines academic learning and critical reflection with direct, short-term service in Haiti.

Students will identify critical global issues affecting Haiti and deepen their understanding of cross-cultural issues and the connections between U.S. policies and countries like Haiti. Through this experience students also grow in their awareness and understanding of themselves and contribute to building a global “culture of solidarity” and engaged citizenship at Saint Vincent College.

Students will travel with Professor, Dr. Richard Gosser. Gosser, executive director and board president of the Rich in Mercy Institute, has nearly 30 years of experience working in Haiti.

Gosser studied mathematics and philosophy at Saint Vincent College and Durham University. He completed graduate studies in theology at Franciscan University. Gosser holds an earned doctorate in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and honorary doctorates from Saint Vincent College and Marywood University. In addition to a 30-year career teaching math at Saint Vincent College, he has taught mathematics and theology in a university pilot project in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and regular seminars on Catholic Social Teaching at the Presentation Ministries Summer Bible Institute at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. A founding board member of Partners in Progress, Gosser has provided strong leadership to the organization since it began in 1999. After 30 years as an associate professor of mathematics at Sain Vincent College, he left his tenured faculty position in 2006 to become PIP’s executive director. Upon his retirement, Saint Vincent College elevated him to the rank of Emeritus Professor of Mathematics.

The Rich in Mercy Institute is inspired by the Christian Gospel and is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2014 by Gosser and his wife, Daneen.

This is the fourth year that the Office of Service Learning at Saint Vincent College will be taking students to Haiti. Since its inception in 2014, 29 students have been on this trip. While in Haiti, students have the opportunity to work with and visit many different programs. They will stay on the campus of the Fondation Enfant Jesus (French) and work in their school and visit at their orphanage. Fondation Enfant Jesus (FEJ) is a non-profit organization based in Haiti that aims to break the cycle of poverty by promoting sustainable human development for impoverished children and their families through a robust full-life development program including: culturally-sensitive education, child and family advocacy, health services, community building and enhancement, support for entrepreneurship and a comprehensive child and family protection program. Students are provided the opportunity to visit their programs and meet the recipients; this year they will be helping with cleanup and refurbishing of the maternity ward after Hurricane Matthew pummeled Haiti in October. They also have the opportunity to attend a community Mass with the St. Francis de Sales of Delmas 33 of the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. Students will visit St. Damien’s Pediatric Hospital where they will go to Mass, receive a tour of their state-of-the-art facility, and meet and speak with Fr. Rick Frechette. The experience is one mixed between service to others and immersion experiences specific to Haiti and the problems the county faces.

Other service trips taking place over spring break include a Campus Ministry-sponsored trip to Brazil where students will work with the homeless, children and the São Bento Monastery.  Participants include Elizabeth Becker of Connellsville, Margaret Franks of Uniontown, Jacob Gordon of Greensburg, Clayton Housler of St. Marys, Phillip Johnson of Monaca, Fr. Mark Liatti, O.S.B. of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B., director of Campus Ministry, Matthew McCarthy of McKeesport, Alexander Schwartz of Donora, Teresa Thimons of Pittsburgh (15202) and Dr. Doreen Blandino, professor of modern and classical languages.

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