ABOUT FATHER GARRY
Father Jean Garry Pierre Louis was born December 26, 1961 and is a Haitian priest from Jeremie on the southwest portion of the island. He is one of nine children. Besides himself, three other siblings are also dedicated to religious orders: two sisters who are nuns and one brother who is also a priest. He grew up very poor but always had a love for his family, his faith, and the poor.
In 1985, after high school he attended the Institut Supérieur Technique to become a Topography Engineer, but he felt called to be a priest so he went to the Seminary of Notre Dame at Port Au Prince until 1993. He decided being a priest would be his career because he was “called by God to serve my brothers and sisters, and to serve the poor.” He especially felt strongly about helping the most vulnerable of the poor, the children. “I particularly feel deep love for the children and they need someone to be engaged among them and to be their advocate.”
After becoming a priest in 1994, his first full-time parish assignment was St. Agnes in Beaumont, Haiti from 1998 to 2005. This is when he met Lynn Anton who came to Beaumont for a medical mission as part of the Parish Twinning Program in 1998. The two became great friends. They had many successful fund raisers and projects together in Beaumont and Jeremie: built an orphanage, La Providence School (elementary and high school), La Providence Pre-School, La Providence Medical & Dental Clinic and Pharmacy, and the Jon Blair Cultural Center; renovated St. Agnes Church & Rectory; created the Beaumont Clean Water Project; developed a student school sponsorship program; and created a micro-credit program to help single women start their own business and support each other. He was then transferred to work directly under the Bishop of the Jeremie Diocese as the Economic Administrator from 2005 to 2014. Since then is he has been the Pastor of St. Helene Parish in Jeremie. In his new position, he renovated the St. Helene Health Care Clinic in Jeremie, and is the Director of St. Luc’s parochial school.
Because of the precarious situation of the many orphaned and homeless children in the city of Jeremie he felt compelled to start two more orphanages in 2005, Notre Dame of Perpetual Hearts, one for boys and one for girls. Although both orphanages were initially privately funded by various donations, they are both now fully self-sustained.
The boys’ orphanage has a large bakery. Once the boys are 14 they can work in the bakery before school baking bread. After school they return to the bakery to place the cooled bread into bags then distribute to stores and vendors throughout the city. Their bread is very much in demand. Pere Garry sets up each boy with a savings account and pays them a fair wage for their work. When they turn 18, they can take the money and go to college, a trade school, or start a business.
The girls’ orphanage has a store which sells groceries and household items. The girls can also work in the store before and after school when they turn 14. They are also paid and have a savings account which they can use to go to college, a trade school, or start a business when they turn 18. After paying the children for their work, the profits from the store and the bakery are enough to sustain the costs of operating the two orphanages including clothing, housing, food, caretakers, and sending the children to school.
After meeting Jerry Shelly in 2014, a new project was created in memory of Jerry’s daughter who died tragically in an automobile accident. Melissa’s Center of Hope is an orphanage for girls in the remote mountain village of Gorgette, Haiti. The vision is to eventually make this orphanage self-sustaining as well. Pere Garry’s plan is to build a chicken coup and farm the adjacent land to make this a reality. They will be able to sell the eggs, coffee, fruits, and vegetables. The girls will be given the same opportunity to work and earn money for when they turn 18. The profits will be used to sustain the costs of the orphanage.
Lynn Anton has known Pere Garry for over 20 years. She trusts him impeccably and knows that the money he receives will go to the project they are working on. She has seen firsthand the results of his labor of love for helping the poor, particularly the children. Once he told Lynn about a small, three year old boy he found wondering on the road, naked, emaciated, and covered in sores. He found the parents who told Pere Garry the boy was too small and they could no longer afford to feed him. He took the boy to his orphanage and the boy has grown into a smart, outgoing young man. Lynn recalls Pere Garry’s heartfelt words about initially finding the boy, “Children are not garbage. They can’t just be thrown out like trash.” Lynn and Pere Garry’s many successful projects are a testament to Pere Garry’s integrity and desire to help the least of our brothers and sisters in Haiti, especially the most vulnerable, the children.