Nativity Parish Fulfills Beautiful Tradition, albeit Virtually
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 12, 2020) Yesterday, Church of the Nativity Pastor Fr. Robert C. Cilinski presented Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine with the donation from this year's Operation Starfish® campaign, not in person, but symbolically via a video prayer service with the charity's staff.
"I am honored to present to Food For The Poor and you with our annual Operation Starfish® gift, which is to be used for the people of Haiti, for the people in the Balan community, for education, generators and more," Fr. Cilinski said. "I am glad we can share virtually with you today because the people of Nativity parish have remembered Haiti."
This year's gift to Food For The Poor is for the church's twelfth community, Nativity Village at Balan. When complete, the community will have 70 homes, a community center for vocational training and events, and animal husbandry incoming-producing projects. Construction is taking longer due to the pandemic, but progress is being made. The community center and more than 20 homes have been built.
"It is truly humbling to receive such a gift during these very difficult and challenging times," Raine said. "I am moved when I think about what Nativity has given us over the years, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. We are deeply grateful for the partnership and that people have rallied in such a time, in the midst of their own needs."
Food For The Poor-Haiti Executive Director Bishop Oge Beauvoir read Philippians 4:4-7, which is a reminder to rejoice in the Lord, not to be anxious, and that the peace of God surpasses all understanding. He also expressed his gratitude that Nativity has not given up on Haiti.
"On behalf of Haiti, thank you for caring to come to our aid," Bishop Oge said. "You have changed the lives of so many of the poor."
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Church of the Nativity's Operation Starfish® campaign. The sacrifices made by parishioners during the Lenten season, have transformed the lives of tens of thousands of the poor through Food For The Poor.
But the people of Haiti also are transforming the lives of those who are helping them.
Jim McDaniel, who retired from Food For The Poor in 2016, and serves as a liaison with Nativity and its Operation Starfish® campaign, is one who has been touched by the people he's met over the years.
During today's service, McDaniel was surprised with a short video message from Mr. Vincent, a man he connected with seven years ago in Madras, Haiti.
McDaniel often speaks about Mr. Vincent, who has one arm. The two met at the inauguration of Nativity Village at Madras in 2013, the church's eighth community, and McDaniel often refers to that encounter when he speaks about the blessings received when we help others. Seeing the video touched him a deeply.
"This meant so much to me, to be able to see him and to hear him," McDaniel said. "He is a reminder that God wants us to accompany each other on our journeys."
Since 1998, the Church of the Nativity has built more than 1,400 homes and has established 11 thriving villages in various regions of the Caribbean nation. The Nativity Villages include community centers that serve a variety of needs, including vocational training.
Those interested in starting an Operation Starfish® campaign at their parish, school or organization can visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/operationstarfish. Parishes nationwide also participate in Operation Starfish® campaign during Lent, vacation Bible schools, Christmas in July celebrations, back-to-school fundraisers, and in preparation for Advent.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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