Deacon Patrick Moynihan

President of The Haitian Project

andHead of the Louverture Cleary School
Moynihan Final 2.jpg

"What you receive for free, you must give for free"- Matthew 10:8


Deacon Patrick Moynihan, born in 1965 in Marietta, Ohio, serves as both the President of The Haitian Project and the head of the tuition-free Catholic boarding school, The Louverture Cleary School. He served in this position from 1996-2006 and again from 2009 till the present.[1] One of Deacon Moynihan’s siblings who had a significant impact on his life is his brother Brian, six years his senior and the CEO of Bank of America. Though never having an excess amount of money growing up, Deacon Moynihan’s parents were able to provide for their nine children without having to put any financial concerns on their children.
The Moynihan’s recognized the importance of education and thrived to guarantee that their children always have access to one. Following in the footsteps of his brother Brian, Deacon Moynihan received a degree in Sanskrit and Classics from Brown University in 1987. After spending some time working and trying to find what he wanted to do with his life, Deacon Moynihan graduated with a Masters Degree in Religious studies from Providence College in 1999. The ability to center his work on his religious beliefs was essential to Deacon Moynihan, who in 2001 was also ordained a Permanent Deacon in the Dioceses of Rockford, IL.[2]
Though Deacon Moynihan has dedicated his life to the education of the poorest of the poor, his career path was not always centered on education in third world countries. After graduating from Brown, Deacon Moynihan accepted a job teaching Latin and English in Connecticut. Three years after becoming a teacher, Deacon Moynihan left his job to become a commodities trader at Louis-Dreyfus in Memphis Tennessee. While Deacon Moynihan’s new job allowed him to achieve financial success, bringing in a six-figure salary annually, he that his new career path was not as fulfilling as he had hoped it would be.[3] After seeing his siblings who he believed were smarter than him, struggle financially, Deacon Moynihan realized that there was more to life than the work that he was pursing and the money that he was making.
When Deacon Moynihan and his wife Christina told his mother that they planned to leave all their wealth behind and move their family to Uganda to perform missionary work, Brian stepped in to offer his brother another career path, one that involved The Haitian Project and the Louverture Cleary School. Through his own career, Brian had been involved in The Haitian project and had been witness to many of the struggles that the organization was facing. Brian suggested to Deacon Moynihan that this organization could use the support of someone who had the drive to fight for the programs survival.[4]
Patrick Moynihan’s decision to become a Deacon was essential in helping him realize his greater purpose in the world of helping those in need. Prior to becoming a Deacon, Moynihan believed that he was just going through the process of life. He realized that God was calling him and his family to something more, the calling to serve others directly. At the base of all decisions that Deacon Moynihan makes with The Haitian Project is his faith and the gospels. The way that the church interprets social teachings is what has led Deacon Moynihan to refer to himself as a missionary.[5]

The Practice:

In his current day practice of community, Deacon Moynihan works to find a way to bridge the gap that exists in education in third world countries. After realizing that his career choice of a commodities trader was not fulfilling enough for him, Deacon Moynihan chose to turn back to his educational beginnings and work to find a way to build a community through the education of youth in third world countries. Deacon Moynihan recognized that if a community was able to be self-sufficient, they needed to have a strong educational system for their youth.[6]
The mission of The Haitian Project is identified as “a Catholic, co-educational boarding school in Haiti, that educates and nurtures academically talented and motivated students from Haitian families who cannot afford the cost of their children’s education in order to maximize their potential and enable them to work toward building a Haiti where justice and peace thrive."[7] Deacon Moynihan recognizes the connection that exists between education and a peaceful community. If individuals lack an education and the ability to sustain a meaningful community, they will be unable to survive as a society in which justice and peace thrive.

Personal Challenge:

Deacon Moynihan’s personal challenge came when he was working as a commodities trader in Tennessee. He had a hard time understanding how certain individuals could have an excess of money and others could not supply for their family with the money that they were making. As a Catholic, one question that came up for Moynihan was “ did God intend for us to have wealth?” He had been accumulating a great deal of wealth and did not know what he was supposed to do with it. Ultimately Moynihan was able to answer his own question and realize that this life that he was living was not the life that he was meant to live. [8] Moynihan ultimately became a Deacon because he recognized that God was calling him to a work that while different was greatly needed. In the U.S. society that Deacon Moynihan is a part of, individuals are constantly trying to find ways to make as much money as possible.
The United States sees money as the key to all success. If they have money, then they can do whatever they like. While American’s do give money to people in need, they are not always willing to give up their life to go and serve directly with the people who are in need of the money. Deacon Moynihan struggled with the question about whether or not money was enough or whether his greater purpose in life was to serve directly with those in need. While he ultimately chose to serve directly with those in need, he faced a great deal of resistance from people who questioned why he was going against the norm.
His extended family, in the beginning, was not supportive of his decision to uproot his family and forgo the wealth that he had accumulated. Brian Moynihan was sent by his mother to convince Deacon Moynihan that his was not the right path to choose; “my [Brian] view to him was that if he went off and traded and made a lot of money, he could give a lot of money and support ten projects instead of one.”[9] While ultimately his family realized that the work that Deacon Moynihan set out to do was beneficial and needed, it was this type of mindset that made Deacon Moynihan question the society in which he was a member.

Standard of Excellence:

The standard of excellence that Deacon Moynihan is striving to achieve through his practice of community is autonomy for the citizens of Haiti from international control. Often times when individuals from other countries go into third world countries to perform service, they wind up staying there permanently because the citizens become reliant on them. While Deacon Moynihan loves the work that he does and the people that he comes into contact with, he understands that the people of Haiti need to form their own path that eventually involves him and the other Americans leaving Haiti permanently. Deacon Moynihan is able to work towards this standard of excellence by making sure that any work and decisions that are done by the Haitian Project or through the Louverture Cleary School are done with the input of the Haitian people.
Two of the goals of the Haitian Project are to “instill in students the desire and motivation to remain in Haiti and to work not only for self-improvement, but also for the betterment of all Haitians” and “ to develop and enhance leadership qualities in students, preparing them to make social and economic contributions to their community and their country.”[10] Deacon Moynihan recognizes that if change is going to occur in Haiti, it needs to start with the youth because they are the leaders of the future. His goal of having the students improve, not only for themselves but also for the Haitian society as a whole, shows the youth that they are part of a bigger society. Deacon Moynihan recognizes the desire in youth to bring about change and believes that by helping them along in the early stages of their development, that eventually in the future they will be able to institute the change that is needed across the whole country without the reliance on international help.


By continuing his work, even with the resistance of those who he relies so heavily upon, Deacon Moynihan displays the virtue of self-reliance. Deacon Moynihan displays the virtue of self-reliance because even while facing resistance from those around him, he determined the direction of his life, without falling victim to the pressures he faced. In response to Brian telling him that it was not his responsibility to do the work he desired, Deacon Moynihan said, “You earn the money, and you give it. Somebody has to be there to do what is right with the money."[11] In order to do the work that Deacon Moynihan set out to do, people need to be open-minded and posses the autonomy needed to do the work alone. While his family ultimately changed their mind and have become Deacon Moynihan’s biggest supporters, they were not always there for him and he had to face many of the initial struggles on his own. From the beginning, Deacon Moynihan knew that he possessed the ability to make the change, even if no one else saw it in him or offered him assistance.

Choice-Worthy Good:

The choice-worthy good that Deacon Moynihan strives to achieve is the autonomy of the people of Haiti. In today’s society, many people who perform services for others do so because they see the weaknesses of the individuals and want to extract their control over them. Through his work Deacon Moynihan hopes to change this belief, “ Oddly, I fear Haiti will only get what it really needs when journalists stop focusing on Haiti’s suffering. That may seem a bit cold to say, but it is the causes of the suffering, and not the suffering itself, that need to be reported."[12] Deacon Moynihan is determined to prove that while there are people suffering, it is society’s job to find a way to stop the cause of the suffering instead of finding ways to help people deal with the suffering they are facing. In Haiti people are suffering because they lack the educational system to move from a third world country to a developing country. Deacon Moynihan, through his work with The Haitian Project and the Loveruture Cleary School, is offering children an education in which they would otherwise not have the access. His hope is that through providing these children an opportunity to obtain an education, they will have the resources necessary to build a better society in Haiti. Societies are able to achieve the greatest level of success when it is the citizens of that society who are making the change necessary, not outsiders forcing change.

Cultural Ill:

Through Deacon Moynihan’s practice of community, he is able to address the cultural ill of a lack of education in third world countries. While education is a right that people in developed countries take for granted, children who live in developing and third world countries are often denied that right. A strong educational system is essential for the flourishing of a community. While the main focus of The Haitian Project and the Louverture Cleary School is education, Deacon Moynihan and the rest of the organization recognize that there is more to an education for children than just straight academics. In addition to the straight educational atmosphere that is offered to the children at the Louverture Cleary School, the children are also given the opportunity to “clean their neighborhoods, care for sick and orphaned children and disabled adults and challenge the notion that there is a country devoid of hope."[13] The Haitian Project believes strongly that while an education is essential in the development of a child and a country, that it is equally as important for children to realize their responsibility to help others. Children need to be educated not only on their academic's but on their humanitarian responsibilities as well. The Haitian Project motto is a reference from Matthew states that, “what you receive for free, you must give for free.”[14] Since the children do not pay for their education, they realize that they must take what they have learned and share it with those who are unable to have this opportunity. By instilling in the children not only the importance of academics but also the importance of spreading their education, Deacon Moynihan and the Haitian Project are able to work towards bettering the educational system in the country and helping Haiti become part of the developed world.

By: Meghan Casey

Deacon Patrick Moynihan. ND Business Council, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

"Deacon Patrick Moynihan to Receive Honorary Doctorate." The Observer. Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, 11 May 2012. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Moynihan, Patrick, Deacon. "The Actual Story." Catholic News Agency, 17 Dec. 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Schwartzapfel, Beth. "Brown Alumni Magazine - The Brothers Moynihan." The Brothers Moynihan. Brown Alumni Magazine, May-June 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

"The Haitian Project" N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

"The Haitian Project: A Divine Mission." YouTube. YouTube, 08 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

The Haitian Project' Begins Process of Recovery. Catholic News Agency, 21 Jan. 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

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