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9603: This Week in Haiti 19:35 11/14/2001 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
November 14 - 21, 2001
Vol. 19, No. 35
PROMINENT HAITIAN PASTOR AMONG THE VICTIMS
The Rev. Jean-Luc Phanord, 49, pastor of the Maranatha Haitian
Missionary Baptist Church in La Romana, Dominican Republic,
perished with 250 other passengers and 9 crew members when
American Airlines Flt. 587 from New York's John F. Kennedy
Airport to Santo Domingo crashed in Far Rockaway minutes after
take-off around 9:16 a.m. on Nov. 12.
Witnesses describe seeing an engine fall from the plane about one
minute after take-off as the Airbus A-300 was steeply climbing
out from JFK over Jamaica Bay. The jet then nose-dived into Belle
Harbor, a quiet residential neighborhood of single family homes
on the Far Rockaway Peninsula, a part of Queens on the
westernmost tip of Long Island.
All 260 aboard the aircraft were killed along with up to 9 other
people on the ground.
Initially, U.S. and city officials reacted to the crash as a
terrorist attack, closing down all three New York metropolitan
area airports as well as bridges and tunnels to the city. But now
investigators have all but ruled out terrorism, although they
continue to leave open the possibility that the plane was somehow
Rev. Phanord was the only passenger on the flight with a Haitian
passport. Most of the other passengers were Dominicans and
"It is a huge loss for the Haitian community here," said Edwin
Paraison, the Haitian Chargé d'Affaires in Santo Domingo and
former Episcopalian priest who worked with Phanord in La Romana,
a city about 70 miles east of Santo Domingo. The city is home to
the Central Romana, once one of the DR's largest state-owned
sugar mills, now privatized. It is surrounded by about 110 small
ramshackle communities -- known as bateys -- populated mostly by
Haitian braceros, or cane-cutters.
"He was the pastor of the most important church in the Haitian
community in La Romana," Paraison said. "He had the largest
Haitian congregation. His death is a tremendous blow to the
community. We salute the work he did to uplift the Haitian
community and to improve the image of Haitians in Dominican
Rev. Phanord's church draws about 850 worshippers every Sunday,
some 500 of them baptized members, according to Rev. Marc
Massénat, Phanord's assistant pastor. "We have about 25 other
churches affiliated with us in the bateys, " Massénat explained.
The Haitian Missionary Baptist Church, founded in 1922, was one
of the first Protestant churches established in the predominantly
Catholic Dominican Republic. The other churches affiliated with
it belong to the Haitian Missionary Baptist Church Association.
Rev. Phanord had travelled to La Romana from Haiti as a Baptist
missionary in 1979 and became executive minister of the
Association in 1987.
The Association's churches have many projects, such as a
vocational center, a computer school, an English school, medical
clinics, and a food distribution center.
But the crown jewel of the network which Phanord helped to build
in the Dominican Republic is the Good Samaritan Hospital in La
Since it was inaugurated in Nov. 1997, the hospital has seen
about 125,000 patients, mostly from the surrounding bateys. It
has a rotating staff of about 12 doctors, according to Rev.
Massénat, and enjoys the services of about 20 other specialists
in everything from gynecology and pediatrics to optamology. The
40-bed facility, which will complete its second floor in about 18
to 24 months, was built entirely with volunteer labor and donated
funds from U.S. church supporters and a small grant from the
Rotary Club. It boasts an ultrasound machine, two surgical rooms,
x-ray and mammography facilities, a laboratory, a pharmacy, and a
Rev. Phanord wanted to train the youth of the bateys to run the
hospital, said Dr. Marshall Smith, a physician from Maine who has
been doing voluntary medical service in the La Romana bateys
since 1993. "He picked a young girl as a candidate out of one of
the bateys," Dr. Smith explained. "He found people to sponsor her
training, and she completed her medical school, internship, and
mandatory government work in Dec. 1997, just after we dedicated
Bob Beck has been leading groups of volunteers to La Romana to
work on building the hospital since construction began back in
1990. "Jean-Luc was a real inspiration for us," Beck said. "His
role was essential when you realize that this hospital was built
almost exclusively by the hands of volunteers and the dollars
that came out of their pockets." Over the years, Phanord and Beck
became close friends. "If it were not for Jean-Luc, I would not
be the type of Christian I am today," Beck said.
Jean-Luc Phanord was born in Port-au-Prince on Oct. 30, 1952. He
grew up in Marchand-Dessalines and then attended the Baptist
Theological Seminary in Limbé. In addition to being a pastor, he
was also an administrator, photographer, electrician, plumber,
He is survived by his wife Elsa, and his three children: Joanne,
who attends college in Florida, Jessica, and Jean Luc Junior. He
has two brothers, Antoine, who lives in New York, and Ruben, who
is also a pastor, in Miami, Florida.
On Nov. 13, Rev. Phanord's wife flew from Santo Domingo to New
York to claim her husband's remains. They will be flown back to
the Dominican Republic and buried in La Romana, Rev. Masséna