In the late 1970s many Haitians have migrated into the Palm Beach County area specifically in the south of the County. According to the community leaders’ own non-scientific census, around 7000 Haitian natives lived in the city of Delray Beach in the late 1980s and thousands more were scattered all around the County without a Church or priest to call their own. A few years later, Father Thomas Wensky, now Archbishop of Miami, would start tending to the spiritual needs of the Haitian Catholics in both, the Archdiocese and the diocese of Palm Beach.
Father Wensky was a true missionary who went the extra mile to learn the language of the Newcomers in order to better serve them. His Christian spirit led him to travel by plane, motorcycle and car to reach the Haitians wherever they could be found.
In October 1986 Father Wensky extended an invitation in the name of Bishop Daily, the first Bishop of the new diocese to the Scalabrini Fathers to send a priest to serve the Haitians in the Delray Beach area. The Scalabrinians accepted the invitation. In November 13, 1987, Father Roland Desormeaux, C.s, a member of the Scalabrini missionaries landed in the Palm Beaches where he has been tended spiritually and socially to the Haitian in the Diocese of Palm Beach since then.
On December 19, 1987, the newly built mission church was inaugurated by Bishop Daily and baptized “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”. That day, history was made for this was the first Catholic Church built in the United States exclusively for Haitians, obviously the first as well in the Diocese of Palm Beach.
Our church is regarded as an integral part of our community. We are consistently implementing new and innovative way of entertaining and shaping the lives of people who come through our doors. Consequently, we have worked with professional members of our communities in order to develop different ministries, so we could allow people to be active in each other’s lives including the Poor, the Newcomers, the Children, the Seniors and every grouping that is part of our community.
Father Roland Desormeaux was born in Hinche, Haiti on February 17, 1950 to Idalia Jean-Baptiste and Joseph Eudoxy Desormeaux. After graduating from Saint-John University in New York, he moved to Canada where he attended the University of Toronto to further his education in Theology.
On August 21, 1982 Roland Desormeaux was ordained priest in Toronto, Canada where he briefly ministered in a multi-ethnic Parish. Later, he went to Brooklyn New York, there he established a vibrant Haitian community of Faith and Love at the Saint Therese of Lisieux Parish (Little Flower).
On November 13, 1987 Father Roland joined the newly established Diocese of Palm Beach in Palm Beach Florida. He immediately started serving the Immigrant community in Palm Beach, Florida as a missionary priest (Scalabrinian). Father Roland vowed to follow and serve Immigrants around the world. Father Roland has been and will never cease to be a friend to immigrants.
Our first Pastoral Council dated back to January 1988. The Pastoral Council’s primary function is to assist the priest in providing services to our members and the community at large. To better understand the role of the Pastoral Council, let’s take a look back on our Church history. We started as a small community at St. Vincent Ferrer Church; as the community started growing the leaders quickly discovered that they needed a church that can cater to the specific needs of the community. The Church serves as a place where people come not only to worship, but also to find answers to their everyday questions.
We are a church at the service of our members and our community. Our current Pastoral Council is composed of nine members. Together we form a formidable team; working relentlessly to improve the quality of life in our community. Our motto is from Galatians 6:2; “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ”.