A Rock for the Church

Newsletter issue: 
December 2014
News item date: 
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

By Drew Williams (News Editor)

From left: Father Peter Finney, III, Rebecca Finney, Peter Finney, Jr., Carolyn Finney, Sarah
Finney and Jonathan Finney. The Finneys are true witnesses to the mission of THP both at
home—where they cultivate a New Orleans LCS network—and in Haiti.

    When his daughter Rebec-ca discovered The Haitian Project (THP) through an online search for missionary work, Peter Finney put aside his anxiety — all he knew about Haiti was that it was the poorest country in the western hemisphere and had recently been devastated by an earthquake — and trusted in Rebecca’s plan to Volunteer at Lou-verture Cleary School (LCS). At that moment, Finney, editor of the Clarion Herald, New Orleans’ Catholic newspaper, had no idea how involved he himself would eventually become in THP.

Finney has visited LCS on two occasions. First, as he accompanied Archbishop of New Orleans, Most Rev. Aymond in January 2011. Their brief visit to LCS validated his trust in Rebecca’s mission. “It was amazing,” he said. “The organization of the students really stuck with me, and how wonderful and polite these young people were.”

One year later, Finney returned for a longer visit with his son, Fr. Peter Finney, III in which he gained a deeper appreciation for the mission. As Fr. Finney recalls, “Entering LCS really showed, in a way I’d never experienced, the vi-brancy and accuracy of Catholic social teaching. THP isn’t something cobbled together or a set of social services, but it really does what we hope to do by empowering at the grassroots so as to contribute to the furthering of the society.”

In support of the young Haitian leaders at LCS, Finney and his family have brought THP to New Orleans through dedicated outreach to the local community. His article for the Clarion Herald, “A Song for Haiti, from the Heart,” recounts his observations at one of LCS’s community service programs. Through the lens of an eleven-year-old singing of God’s grace for her class-mates, Finney frames these timoun students (participants in LCS’s neighborhood early childhood education program) sitting on tiny chairs in a circle as the future lead-ers of Haiti.

With LCS Director of Com-munity Outreach, Christina Moynihan, the Finney family next introduced THP through “Rockin’ Art,” an art auction featuring Haitian artwork and textiles made by the women from the LCS zone (neighborhood). Most recently, an October 2014 get together in honor of THP drew a diverse crowd, united by belief in the value of Catholic education.

THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan sees God’s plan in operation through the Finneys, as one connection turned into a family’s and then a community’s support. “Peter is aptly named. He is indeed a rock for the Church. I greatly appreciate him helping us build a base support in New Orleans and the Delta,” said Deacon Moynihan.