Haiti’s first and only Cardinal, Chibly Langlois, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Parish Twinning Program of the Americas national conference, to be held in Nashville Sept. 19-21.
The conference, centered around the theme “Strengthening our solidarity through shared experience and knowledge,” will include a number of sessions presented by American and Haitian health, education, financial and community-building experts. It will also include ample time for networking among those involved in parish twinning programs.
Cardinal Langlois, a long-time friend of the Parish Twinning Program, will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Saturday, Sept. 20. He will speak on how “Twinning brings changes in communities and institutions for a better life.”
After the conference, Cardinal Langlois will celebrate a special Mass for the Nashville Haitian Catholic community at Holy Name Church at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.
Cardinal Langlois “has always been very supportive of the program,” said PTPA co-founder and executive director Theresa Patterson. Patterson spent a great deal of time with Cardinal Langlois when he was bishop of Fort-Liberte, Haiti, and said she was “extremely impressed” with the work he did.
Cardinal Langlois was elevated to cardinal by Pope Francis on Feb. 22, 2014, and at age 55 is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He was born in La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti, and ordained a priest in 1991. He was made a bishop in 2004 and assigned the Diocese of Fort-Liberte; he later became bishop of Le Cayes, Haiti.
Cardinal Langlois is regarded as a servant of the poor, but someone who has a gift of uniting people from all socio-economic classes. When he was named a cardinal last January, Patterson told the Tennessee Register that she knew him to be “always forthcoming and communicative, even though he was very busy.”
Patterson has seen the Nashville-based Parish Twinning Program grow tremendously in its 36-year history. What started as an outreach ministry at St. Henry Parish in Nashville has since grown into an internationally recognized non-profit organization focused on creating lasting relationships between parishes in the U.S. and parishes in Haiti, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere.
Since the program launched in 1978, it has linked up hundreds of “sister parishes,” that develop a mutual and enriching relationship of sharing, solidarity and understanding. Parishes in the U.S. often raise funds and send resources to their twinned parish and help with various special projects, including medical missions and clean water systems. Since 1978, U.S. parishes have sent more than $50 million in aid to impoverished church communities in Haiti and other countries.
During the Parish Twinning Program three day conference, participants will hear from a variety of speakers, including a representative from Catholic Relief Services; a doctor from the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance; an expert in microfinance; a Haitian involved in reforestation projects in his home country, among others. A full list of topics and a complete schedule of events can be found at www.parishprogram.org/national-conference-2014.
According to Patterson, more than 100 people from Tennessee, Indiana, New York, Florida, and elsewhere have signed up to attend the conference. She is encouraging American parishes to sponsor their twinned pastor or parish representative to attend the conference, and expects a robust Haitian presence.
“People in the program feel like the networking is the greatest thing about the conference,” said Patterson, who will lead one conference session along with Father Edwige Carre, a native of Haiti who is now pastor of Holy Name Church in Nashville.
The conference’s goal, Patterson said, is to “build greater solidarity between parishes and individuals who are working to improve the lives of the Haitian people.”
Parish Twinning Program of the Americas National Conference
Nashville Marriott Airport Hotel
September 19-21, 2014
Registration and more information: