LAST WEEK, parishioners of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Clarksville welcomed three visitors from their sister parish in Haiti.
The visit was part of a continuing exchange program between St. Louis and St. John the Evangelist Center in Gonaives, Haiti. The center runs an elementary school, a trade school and a medical dispensary.
"We've tried to establish in this sister-parish relationship a cultural, spiritual, educational and financial relationship," said the Rev. Rich Bozzelli, associate pastor at St. Louis. "It's more than just us sending money to them."
Two years ago, when the program began, the Rev. Gerard Dormevil and Sister Margaret Lorway came to Clarksville from Haiti. Both work with Caritas, an international charitable organization that runs St. John the Evangelist Center.
Last year, Bozzelli and four St. Louis parishioners traveled to Gonaives.
This year's visitors from Haiti were again Dormevil, Lorway and Madsen Jean, director of a trade school that trains young women, ages 14 to 20, in sewing, baking and other occupations.
The visitors spoke at each of St. Louis' weekend Masses. Lorway, who is fluent in English, served as translator.
Dormevil speaks Creole, Spanish and a little English, and Jean speaks only Creole.
A collection taken during the Masses yielded more than $40,000 for St. John the Evangelist Center.
The visitors spent time with the students at St. Louis School and in the religious education program that St. Louis runs for public school children.
High school students from the religious education program were interested to learn about problems that Haitian teens face.
The Haitian visitors stayed in Dayton at the home of Juliana Kopec and her two grown children, Jennifer and Michael.
"Mr. Jean had never been out of the country," Jennifer Kopec said.
A group of parishioners planned their guests' itinerary, which included sightseeing and shopping excursions. There was also a brief visit to an ice skating rink so Jean could have his first look at ice.
Many parishioners provided meals for the visitors. Mary Bird and her husband, David, held a luncheon at their home and organized a dinner in the church meeting room.
Mary said she had been planning a formal dinner for 12, but things changed after she received a call from Jackie Arnaux, a parishioner who is a native of Haiti.
Arnaux, who speaks Creole, had met the visitors before, and mentioned that she was distressed at not seeing them on this trip because she had to go to a family funeral. Mary invited her and her family to the dinner.
Expecting a family of about four, Mary Bird was startled to see 14 children and adults enter the room, she said.
She and the Kopec family quickly set up more tables and chairs and figured out how to make food for 12 people stretch to feed 26.
"This was like the loaves and the fishes," Bird said, referring to the New Testament account. "Somehow the food extended to everyone who was there -- all 26 people."
This year, parishioners sent a generator -- donated by the Fifth District Volunteer Fire Department in Clarksville -- to the St. John center. The generator provides electricity for the bishop's residence, Caritas, the seminary and the neighborhood.
The greatest benefit of the visit to St. Louis, Bozzelli said, was that it "solidified the personal relationships that have been developing." Communication between the two groups is by fax or ham radio. Telephone calls are difficult because Lorway is the only English speaker in the Haitian group.
"I really believe that the parishioners have developed a sense of a relationship," Bozzelli said. "They remember Father Gerard and Sister Margaret from when they were here two years ago. They were very moved by their stories, and they have been very generous.
"This is a consistent commitment and not just a one-shot deal."
Jazz great at Glenelg
The Glenelg High School Jazz Ensemble will be the opening act for an evening of jazz with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson on Nov. 17 at the school.
Ferguson and his band, Big Bop Nouveau, will play jazz classics such as "Night in Tunisia," "In a Mellow Tone" and many more hits. Ferguson, considered one of the world's great trumpet and brass instrument players, is in his fourth decade as a leader in jazz.
Born in Canada, Ferguson played piano and violin by the age of 4. At 9, he discovered the trumpet, and he formed his first jazz band at 16.
The Glenelg jazz musicians are looking forward to this gig with a jazz legend.
"The kids are very excited about playing for Maynard," said Glenelg band director Barry Enzman. "We have a grand finale planned where both bands are going to play together at the end of the evening, which is going to be a real kick. The energy created by that point is pretty extreme."
The concert will be at 8 p.m. in the Glenelg High School auditorium. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door.
Children at Lisbon Elementary are digging through closets and drawers to find Halloween costumes they no longer wear.
The costumes will be donated to children who can't afford costumes for trick or treating.
Members of the community are invited to participate. Drop off slightly used or new costumes at the Lisbon school office.
Clarksville car wash
If your car needs a wash, drive it to the Clarksville fire station between noon and 4 p.m. Saturday.
Members of the Columbia Soccer Club Under-14 Girls Team will be there to make your car shine. The wash is free, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds will help buy uniforms and pay tournament fees.
The team, which includes girls from throughout the county, has several members from western Howard: Megan Branthover of Dayton, Megan Leon of Glenelg, Tara Dubinski of Woodstock and Kara Novello of Mount Airy.