Faculty Author Reaches Out to Haiti
Tara Hefferan has been intrigued with Haiti ever since she completed
her master’s degree thesis on the country. The Alma College faculty
member was more intrigued to find that a startling number of West
Michigan Catholic parishes had partnerships with parishes in Haiti, and
she wondered why.
“In the Grand Rapids diocese, there were about 20 parishes that were involved in the program. I wondered ‘Why are all these people interested in Haiti? What are they trying to change?’” she said.
The answer is in her newly published book, Twinning Faith and Development: Catholic Parish Partnering in the U.S. and Haiti.
Hefferan focuses on one specific relationship between St. Robert’s in Grand Rapids and Our Lady in Haiti. She looks at how that partnering is encouraging development in Haiti – and how that development compares to more conventional development initiatives from governmental agencies and non-profits.
“These programs are successful in creating these really deep and far reaching connections between average citizens in the United States and citizens in Haiti,” she says. “It creates a concern for Haitians, for what’s happening, and puts Haiti on the radar of the average middle class American.”
The book began as part of her doctoral dissertation at Michigan State University, which took six years to complete.
A visiting professor at Alma College during the 2006-07 academic year, Hefferan taught introductory anthropology courses, including cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, race and ethnicity, and international development.
She hopes to continue researching faith based development efforts, and is interested in looking at programs in other denominations.
Posted: Thu, July 5th, 2007 at 1:50PM