Posted: Tuesday Apr 3, 2012
April 3, 2012
Richard Frechette, C.P., D.O., a priest, physician and missionary who has served thousands of impoverished children and orphans for more than three decades, will be recognized with the conferral of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and be the principal speaker at the 166th annual commencement of Saint Vincent College, it was announced by Saint Vincent College President Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B. More than 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded at the Saturday, May 12 ceremony which begins at 2 p.m. in the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
Rev. Frechette, widely known as Father Rick, is the director of medical services at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) St. Damien’s Hospital in Haiti and serves as NPH’s regional director of the Caribbean, the Haiti national director and a member of the NPH International Health Services team which oversees the medical needs of the children in nine countries including Bolivia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico.
Ordained a priest in the Passionist order in 1979, he was assigned to a parish in Baltimore where he met Rev. William B. Wasson, founder of the organization that in English means “Our Little Brothers and Sisters.” In 1983, Fr. Rick served at a hacienda in Mexico that had been converted to a home for nearly 1,000 orphaned and abandoned children. His next calling was to Honduras where he helped establish a second orphanage for NPH.
He was drawn to Haiti, where Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were caring for babies born of dying mothers, most of them sick from AIDS. While many of the babies did not survive, those who did needed care, love and a place to live. After visiting the poor country and children’s hospice, Father Rick and Rev. Wasson decided to begin an orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince. Today, it survives in a challenging political, economic and criminal environment.
Father Rick is a graduate of Assumption College in Massachusetts where he earned degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He also attended St. John’s University in New York and studied theology as a seminarian. To further assist the Haitian people and their needs, he earned a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree in 1998 from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and became a licensed general practitioner in New York and Florida. Upon his return to Port-au-Prince, he established the country’s most advanced pediatric medical facility, St. Damien’s Hospital, which provides long-term care for critically ill children and outpatient services for more than 20,000 children and adults each year.
He continues to direct St. Hélėne Orphanage, which cares for more than 500 orphans, operates dozens of schools and clinics in the poorest sections of Port-au-Prince, provides food and clean drinking water for thousands of poor people each day, organizes and leads teams who recover and bury the bodies of the poor who die alone and abandoned on the streets of Port-au-Prince, and spends five mornings a week working alongside the Missionaries of Charity in their centers for the sick and destitute dying.
The January 2010 earthquake and the subsequent cholera epidemic significantly increased the amount of work Father Rick and his assistants do among orphans, the sick and the destitute. A renewed outbreak of cholera brought hundreds of new patients to St. Damien’s Hospital and the clinics operated by the mission.
His service to humanity as a priest and physician working in the clinics, orphanages and schools in the world’s most impoverished places, has previously been recognized with the Hollywood Humanitarian Award, an honorary doctoral degree from Marywood University and an honorary doctoral degree from his alma mater, Assumption College.
He is the author of a book, Haiti: The God of Tough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men, which was published by Transaction Publishers this year.
Photo: Rev. Richard (Father Rick) Frechette, C.P., D.O.
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