Education provides hope and opportunity for the future of Haiti. Because there are few public schools in the country, most children attend private schools. Poor families cannot afford the fees and are unable to send their children to school.
We support primary, secondary and advanced education, touching the lives of 1,100 students.
Reiser Heights, in the rural village of Donte, has 14 classrooms spread between three buildings for students in kindergarten through ninth grade. Since 1998 we have paid teacher salaries to ensure that school fees are affordable for poor families.
Terre Promise, in Cite Soleil, is a refuge for children and youth living in difficult surroundings. The elementary through high school students occupy 19 classrooms. We pay teacher salaries, keeping fees low.
Guardian Angels, in Leogane, is managed by the Companions of Jesus sisters. We sponsor a lunch program, where locally sourced food provides nutritious meals to students in kindergarten through ninth grade. There are two buildings and a total of 12 classrooms. With your support, we paid for the construction of a cafeteria and sport court in 2017.
Cecelia Duffy Memorial School in Marfranc, a village in southwest Haiti, opened in 2015. This growing school has two buildings, each with six classrooms, for kindergarten through fifth grade. In partnership with St. Mary of the Lake Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, we supported the construction of both school buildings and latrines, and continue to pay teacher salaries.
Saint Michael Archangel, located in Cite Soleil, is a haven for street children. We partnered with Sister Paesie, the founder of the school, to build a security wall, water tank, and latrines in 2021. The school opened in 2022 with eight classrooms.
A trade school, located in Delmas, allows young men and women to enroll in a one-year culinary arts or a two-year fashion design program. In its first year of operation, 2020-2021, 34 culinary arts students graduated, with many finding meaningful work immediately! Your support keeps tuition affordable for students.
University Scholarships: We sponsor tuition and living expenses for six students at the University of Notre Dame in Port au Prince, including medical students.
A severe lack of public social services in Haiti leaves the elderly and disabled vulnerable.
The Village of Jesus, a home for orphaned elderly women in Leogane, was one of Fr. Bernard Reiser's first projects in Haiti. Dedicated in 2001, it was constructed in partnership with the Companions of Jesus sisters. Currently 40 women live in this peaceful oasis in Leogane, Haiti.
We are pleased to continue our long relationship with the Companions of Jesus sisters at another home for elderly women in Port au Prince. With your support, we renovated Sacred Heart Elderly Home in 2017, improving accessibility, comfort and safety. Your ongoing financial support provides locally sourced food and medical care for the 25 women at Sacred Heart.
In 2015, Reiser Relief began partnering with the Little Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Marfranc. We rebuilt two eldercare facilities in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. The sisters, with our support, continue to provide food and medical care to 32 elderly men and women at these homes.
Dr. Ann Rinehart
"You can't walk away from misery and do nothing."
- Father Bernard Reiser
Bernard Reiser was born in 1924 to Aloys and Ottilia Reiser, farmers living in Wayzata, Minnesota. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1949 and was assigned to St. Mary of the Lake Parish in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. In 1964, Archbishop Leo Binz asked Father Reiser to start a parish in the quickly-growing Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids. Seventy acres of farmland was acquired for the new church, which was named Epiphany after the great feast day of our Lord. Father Reiser's vision for the new parish was to see it become a home for people from conception to natural death.
Under Father Reiser's leadership, Epiphany grew to be one of the largest Catholic communities in Minnesota, totaling almost 20,000 people. In addition to the church, the Epiphany campus includes an elementary school, a Perpetual Adoration chapel, a senior housing complex, an assisted living facility, a cemetery, prayer garden, Stations of the Cross, and an outdoor shrine.
In 1996, Father Reiser traveled to Haiti for the first time. “I have seen slums in China, Egypt and Mexico City,” he wrote. “None of them compare to the tragic realities of the slums outside Port au Prince.” Father Reiser was profoundly impacted by his first experience in Haiti and resolved to spend the rest of his life raising awareness about the level of poverty in the country and alleviating the suffering of the poor. This was the beginning of Reiser Relief.
Father Reiser returned to Haiti multiple times, where he started an elementary school, a home for the elderly, and a water truck ministry that provides clean water free of charge to residents of Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere.
After 62 years of dedicated priesthood, Father Bernard Reiser went to the Lord on December 27, 2011 at the age of 86. Thousands of people mourned the passing of a beloved friend, mentor and pastor.
Reiser Relief carries on the legacy of Father Reiser by continuing the work he started in Haiti. Since our founding, the organization has grown to support four primary schools, three homes for the elderly, one home for disabled adults, one trade school, one water truck ministry, and one university scholarship program. We thank God for the life of Father Reiser, a visionary who made the world a better place.