“It was about 8:30 within the morning and that I was on the second floor of a building,” he said. “All of a sudden, everything starts vibrating. I shop around and everything on the walls of the building is shaking and rattling, and it took me a couple of seconds to understand, whoa, this is often an earthquake. And when that happened, I bolted out of the building.” So did everyone else, Jude said. and everybody within the country felt the shaking, he said.
The subsequent tropical storm caused massive flooding, also as landslides in rural areas, Jude said. Buildings that his organization had constructed to modern standards didn’t collapse, he said, but many of us were displaced after their shacks collapsed and roofs caved in. Jude recently joined “Practicing Catholic” radio show host Patrick Conley to explain how his organization helps meet needs of the Haitian people.
Reiser Relief may be a boots-on-the-ground organization that partners directly with religious sisters, including the small Sisters of St. Therese, congregations of sisters and brothers, and Catholic laypeople, Jude said, to supply education, shelter for homeless children, housing for the elderly, and other programs, like supporting agricultural initiatives and college sponsorships. it had been founded by Father Bernard Reiser, who also was the founding pastor of Epiphany in Coon Rapids. He oversaw the organization until his death in 2011.
Among the organization’s priorities in Haiti today are providing food and medical care “to anyone who needs it,” Jude said. “There’s tons of hunger therein area immediately,” Jude said, with many Haitians sleeping within the elements. “The sisters do whatever they will to support displaced people within the area.” Slums are the foremost dangerous areas and therefore the places where extreme levels of poverty are most visible, he said. “There’s tons of homelessness … tons of danger, gang wars happening,” Jude said. “There’s no sewage (systems), no running water, no electricity in many of those areas, and within the rural areas.”
“It really reminds you that we’ve an obligation to be stewards of resources on this earth, as Christians, as Catholics, and that we really need to look out for each other no matter where they’re within the world,” Jude said. To learn more about Reiser Relief and the way to assist, visit ReiserRelief.org. Website visitors can subscribe to a newsletter and send prayer intentions.
To hear more of Jude’s interview, hear this episode of the “Practicing Catholic” radio show. It airs at 9 p.m. Sept. 17, 1 p.m. Sept 18, and a couple of p.m. Sept. 19 on Relevant Radio 1330 AM. Produced by Relevant Radio and therefore the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the newest show also includes interviews with Amy and Tim Lemke, who discuss making an honest marriage great through Worldwide Marriage Encounter, and Msgr. Jason Gray from the Diocese of Peoria, who describes the canonization process for sainthood.