Haiti Crisis Strikes Close To Home For Benedictine Academy Community

ELIZABETH—The Benedictine Academy community pulled together to offer hope and strength to eight students and a teacher who were directly affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

The young women at the Elizabeth high school had relatives who were deeply impacted by the catastrophe. The teacher, who is originally from Haiti, has a brother there who has been forced to “sleep in his car in his backyard” because he is without shelter.


In the early hours during the aftermath of the earthquake, Benedictine Academy students joined forces to pray the rosary at the start of every class to offer support for the students and their families while they awaited news of their relatives’ plight. Campus ministers and administration officials at the Academy organized and met with Haitian-American students individually to talk about the situation, providing information about government hotlines so students could obtain updates on their loved ones.

In addition, the Academy raised nearly $300 to send to Haiti through the Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East, and is also collecting used jeans in concert with Aeropostale, which has pledged to donate one new pair of jeans along with the used to Haiti.

Benedictine Academy students Tawanda Peebles and Taylor Marion, both Class of 2011, with Rev. Jack Martin (resides at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Elizabeth), co-founder of “Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East”, of Northvale. Father Martin visited the academy following the earthquake in Haiti and showed a video made last May, which illustrated the work that is being done by volunteers, doctors and Catholic church representatives (they were still dealing with problems remaining from floods that occurred years ago).  He spoke to students about how they can help the victims of the disaster.

Benedictine Academy students and faculty directly impacted by the devastating earthquake- flanked by the Academy’s Campus Ministers (far left) Linda Michalski and (far right) Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, are: (l-r) Euliette Michel, French teacher at the Academy; LaShae Lopez-Duverneau of Newark; Shahnushka Luxeus of Elizabeth; Samantha Jules of Newark; Samantha Frejeuste of Irvington; Kimberly Clerie of Newark; Rose Chelot of Elizabeth; Elorie Jean of Irvington; and Martha Jacquet of Roselle.

Frejeuste’s 18-year-old cousin had traveled from New Jersey to Haiti for a wedding and was killed, while her father, who lives there, survived. Several others have fathers who live there and survived. Chelot had a cousin who was killed. Luxeus had 13 relatives on her mother’s side perish. Said Frejeuste, “We are grateful for all that has been done, but we don’t want people to forget- we are human beings. We hope people will continue to go there and help.”

Photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy

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