HALES CORNERS, Wis.— The hostage situation in Haiti has continued on nearly two weeks after seventeen missionaries were kidnapped while doing aid work in the country. It comes at a time when rising violence in Haiti has led many Wisconsin mission groups to cancel travel to the country.
That is the case for St. Mary’s Catholic Parish in Hales Corners. Since the early 2000s St. Mary’s led dozens of trips to Haiti in order to help their sister parish Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Pam Lownik has been on eighteen of those trips and serves as St. Mary’s director of social concern. Lownik said it is heartbreaking to hear of what is happening to the Americans being help hostage.
“I can’t imagine how afraid they are, how their faith community is reacting,” said Lownik. “My heart goes out to them, prayers go out to them and we just hope it resolves itself in a way where they get home safe to us.”
Lownik said St. Mary’s has not travelled to Haiti since 2019, after political strife and increased violence in the country led the church, and many other aid groups, to determine it was no longer safe to travel to the country.
Still, Lownik said they have been able to keep aid going despite not traveling in person. They continue to fund food programs and host supply drives. Thanks to technology, they also keep in touch closely with the parish.
“We text; we Zoom— having Zoom meetings so we are still in connection with them through actual face to face interaction," said Lownik.
While she is glad that they have still been able to serve, Lownik said she hopes that she and others will be able to return to Haiti in the future.