“I left the Center with a sense of accomplishment and a happy heart believing that this ministry, shaped in the spirit of Saint Julie, will continue to thrive. I was happy to return to Connecticut and begin a new chapter by joining the welcoming community at Julie House in December of 2020.
In 2003, Jeannette, who was born and raised in Haiti, visited Haiti with Sisters Ann Howard, Dorothy Connelly and Associate Mary Chelli. During that visit, the Bishop Alix Verrier invited them to come to Haiti to help address the needs there.
After consultation with leadership, Sisters Jeannette and Janelle Sevier went to Haiti in 2009. They commissioned a research project, consulted with the community and developed a plan for the Center based on an Education for Life model.
When Janelle returned to the U.S., Jeannette continued to administer the Notre Dame Education Center program that included human development, basic skills and a home economics/domestic program, a three- year course that included cooking, baking, sewing, embroidery and arts and crafts.
The Center also created workshops so students could use their skills on practical projects. These workshop areas included:
• family baking workshop
making bread and pastries
• wreath making workshop
making wreaths for funerals
• sewing workshop
making uniforms and clothing
• peanut butter workshop
grinding and bottling peanuts into peanut butter
• agriculture workshop
growing and harvesting vegetables
The Center shares the profits from the sale of the workshop products with the students. The remainder of the profits go into a fund so that the Center will be self-sustaining.
The Center opened a section to educate children who had little prospects for a better future. As the positive word of mouth about the Center spread, a priest approached Sister Jeannette asking if he could send twelve women from his parish to learn and then create a Basic Education Center in his parish – a ministry which is ongoing.
When Jeanette began planning the transition of the Center, she asked Mariana Sanon, who had demonstrated her commitment to the values and principles of the Center, if she would be willing to assume the leadership role of the Center. Mariana said yes. With Jeannette’s guidance and the assistance of the Diocesan Vicar General, Mariana prepared to become Executive Director.
“My heart was full at the ceremony which installed Mariana, Jeannette said. “It was time to allow others to carry on the ministry. With the support first of the CLT, and then the East-West Province, and so many in Haiti, I knew we had done all we could. I feel confident that the ministry will thrive in the years to come.”
“When I returned to Connecticut, I had a full heart. It is good to be with my sisters, Dina Karvelis, our Administrator, and the staff. I love tending our vegetable garden and joining in community life as we do our part to live the Notre Dame mission every day.”