USF mourns the loss of Rev. Andre Sylvestre of Cap-Haitien, Haiti

September 8, 2021

Rev. Andre Sylvestre, founder of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage, was killed Monday, September 6 in Cap-Haitian, Haiti. The University of Saint Francis and surrounding communities generously support the residential, nutritional and medical needs of this orphanage by participation in the annual Formula for Life 5K run.

Haitian news reports say Father Andre completed a bank transaction and was followed by a gang of armed bandits on motorcycles. They pulled alongside and shot Father Andre multiple times. He died shortly after being taken to a hospital. Robbery appears to be the motive.

“The University of Saint Francis offers its condolences to the family and many friends of Father Andre,” said USF President Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer. “He affected countless people and will be greatly missed. He leaves a deep legacy of love and care with those whose lives he touched.”

Father Andre taught people to dream big. He was the oldest of eight children in rural Haiti. His parents, who were poor coffee farmers, could not always afford to send their son to school. Despite a fragmented education, he earned two graduate degrees, including one from Ball State University.

Father Andre dedicated his life to orphaned children. He worked relentlessly to provide for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage houses 34 orphans. The orphanage includes a school which provides affordable education to more than 500 children and a new medical clinic for those unable to pay for healthcare.

“My dream is to have between 100 and 150 orphans in the future orphanage complex that I plan to build, because there are too many orphans who are abandoned in Haiti,” Father Andre said. “My hope is that, after having learned a trade or a profession, those orphans will be helpful to themselves and to the Haitian society. As you see, it is a big and long-term dream.”

USF Professor Dr. Amy Obringer, who directs Formula for Life, offers her sincere thank you to all who have shared messages about how Father Andre impacted their lives and for sharing their fond memories of him. “Formula for Life will continue to support Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage in Father Andre’s memory. We want his dream realized and to offer hope and opportunity to his children,” she said.

A memorial mass will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, September 10 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1200 W. Riverside Avenue in Muncie, Indiana. A reception will follow.

Memorial donations can be sent to USF Formula for Life, c/o Dr. Amy Obringer, University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring St., Fort Wayne, IN 46808.

Photo by Perry Bruggeman