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Duquesne University Community Contributes $33,000 to Spiritans in Haiti

The Duquesne University community has rallied to help the congregation of Spiritans whose school and residence were destroyed by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.

On March 30, Duquesne University President Charles J. Dougherty presented a check for $33,000 to the Rev. Paulin Innocent, C.S.Sp., provincial superior of the Spiritan Foundation in Haiti, after Innocent talked about the devastation at a special campus event.

Dougherty told how students rallied to help after the disaster, and the campus administration sent two appeals for the Duquesne Haitian Fund to faculty, staff and alumni, as well as students. Even though some had already given to other appeals, the $33,000 was quickly raised because of the special connection between Duquesne and its founding Spiritan congregation.

“As the world’s only comprehensive Spiritan university, we have a special obligation to our Spiritan friends and the work they’re doing in Haiti,” said Dougherty, noting that the efforts will be ongoing.

Additionally, he said, contributors know “that every dollar we raised would be going to someone on the scene.”

Alia Pustorino-Clevenger, assistant director of student activities, said that 15 student groups at Duquesne also have ongoing efforts to aid the cause.

Innocent showed photos of the tremendous losses suffered in the earthquake by the Spiritan Foundation, headquartered in Port-au-Prince since 1865.  A young seminarian was killed and the College of St. Martial, which served more than 1,400 students in grades K-12, was demolished except for the chapel. Adjacent facilities, which housed the Spiritan administrative offices as well as the Spiritan formation center for those studying for the priesthood were destroyed, displacing six priests, eight students and 20 novices.

When the quake hit, Innocent was on the third floor of the primary school, sandwiched between the ceiling and floor, and lucky to crawl out. A friend who was in the room with him was trapped in rubble for 10 hours before he could be freed and is recuperating from eye surgery.

The priests are now staying in tents, Innocent said, but this temporary housing could be threatened by the upcoming hurricane season. The school is trying to continue teaching so the children don’t lose a year of schooling.

More information on the appeal is available at www.myduquesne.duq.edu.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.