St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - Naperville, IL

Ertha’s Virtual Mission Appeal

Summer Mission Appeal

Ertha Papillon, a leader in our Haiti Twinning community (Ste. Marie-Madeleine, Duchity, Haiti), was our “virtual” mission speaker this summer. She founded and directs an elementary school and orphanage for the poorest of the poor in the hills near Duchity.

Please take a few minutes to watch the short video from Ertha with scenes of her school and orphanage (including greetings from the children).


Ertha Mission Appeal

If you would like to make a donation to Ertha’s school/orphanage, there are two ways:

1. Checks can be written to “St. Thomas OSJ” with “Ertha” in the memo and sent to St. Thomas OSJ – ATTN: MIKE (1500 Brookdale Rd. Naperville, 60563)

2. CLICK HERE TO DONATE ONLINE. Be aware there is a 3.4% credit card usage charge deducted from on-line donations.

Mèsi anpil (Creole: Thank you very much)

School and Orphanage Needs

The school children often injure themselves on the rocky school grounds. Ertha would like to finish the cement paving.

The Orphanage has many needs:

  • Ongoing funds for food and salaries for the caretakers are always needed.
  • Finishing the second building will provide dorm space for the boys and a cafeteria. Currently all are crowded into one building.
  • A security fence is needed around the orphanage.
  • A graduate of the orphanage and St. Thomas High School is being partially sponsored to study agronomy. Ertha is looking for others to help sponsor her education.

In the “Loaves and Fishes” Gospel, the small amount of food the disciples gave was blessed by Jesus and fed the multitudes. As we, also disciples of Jesus, provide Ertha and her children with what is needed, it will be blessed, and the effects will be magnified far beyond the original value.

Ertha’s Story

Ertha has visited often and is always graciously received. For those who may not know her background and for new parishioners, below is her story.

Ertha founded a school (1998) and an orphanage (2006) to serve the impoverished, malnourished and orphaned children in her Trois-Bois community. Ertha did not seek this mission. She knew that God had prepared her for this journey to help these children grow in body, mind, and spirit.

In her early years, Ertha was schooled by Catholic Sisters, who taught her to become a good, devout Catholic. They taught her to teach, to lead others in song, to sew and to serve our God in all ways … always. Ertha was further educated in Port-au-Prince and became a nurse. While there, she worked for a short time at a hospital with Mother Teresa. She was moved by Mother Teresa’s selfless acts of love and her inner joy of serving God. When Ertha returned to her parish, Ste. Marie-Madeleine, she began serving others in any way God asked her to serve. As God’s plan has been revealed, no matter how difficult the road, any pain has been overridden by joy! Good Fridays are always followed by Easter Sundays.

In 1998, Ertha began teaching impoverished children in front of her home. She taught them during “play time” and gave them a snack. A few children became 35 children and then 85! Parents and children experienced the “hope” and the “joy” that was coming alive through Ertha’s caring spirit and her skills. In 2001, a school was built with labor from the community, and funds donated by a “passerby” from an area NGO and from the personal funds of St. Thomas Pastor Don Kenny. Today, Our Lady of Perpetual Help has 305 students (Pre-K to Grade 6) with a consistent 99% pass-rate on the 6th grade national tests. Haiti’s average is about 50%. St. Thomas annually helps provide funds for quality teachers through the Sponsor-a-Child program.

In 2006, a grandmother brought a newborn to Ertha, as the child’s mother died during childbirth, which is very common in Haiti. Soon after, another mother died delivering twins, and Ertha was entrusted with their care as well. Ertha realized that God wanted her to start an Orphanage. God knew the children under her direction and care would be truly loved. The Orphanage today has 20 loved children.

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, created great challenges and hardships for the school and orphanage, but God’s hand was always guiding the way to the next step. God would always send someone to help a little … someone to pay some salaries for the teachers or the orphanage caregivers … an NGO organization to put a new roof on the buildings and contribute toward books and some desks … St. Thomas helped purchase new mattresses for the orphanage children and has supported food for the children through a number of Lenten projects. This was all God’s plan entrusted to Ertha to carry out.

God always brings people together to lighten the load in some way. Ertha Papillon has used God’s grace in her life to help the precious children in Haiti. Ertha’s unconditional faith reminds us that God is truly in charge!