Nativity Catholic Church's Operation Starfish and its subsidiary ministries, Fish4Hope and Stella Marina, provide opportunities for encountering the poor of Haiti. Through community development, small business and safe childbirth projects, we make a difference one person at a time.
In 1998, Fr. Richard Martin, then pastor of Nativity Catholic Church in Burke, Virginia, took a walk with his dog and came up with an idea to get his parish involved in a more substantial way with the poor. He placed a simple wicker basket in the church and suggested that each family try to save 50 cents a day during Lent. By Easter, $67,000 had been donated and with that gift, Food For The Poor built 27 homes for needy families in Haiti.
Over the years, Nativity’s Operation Starfish has continued the simple Lenten tradition of the wicker basket. Working with Food For The Poor, more than 1,400 homes have been built in 11 Nativity Villages in Haiti. In addition to homes, each village development has clean water, sanitation, access to education and health care, and small business that sustain the communities.
Fr. Martin passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on. Fr. Bob Cilinski, current pastor of Nativity Catholic Church, stated “There is no better way to honor and celebrate Fr. Martin’s priesthood and ministry among us than to support Operation Starfish which was so dear to his heart.” On October 6, 2016, Fr. Cilinski dedicated Good Shepherd Village in Haiti, dedicated to Fr. Martin’s memory.
In 2019, work begins on Nativity Village at Balan, the 12th community development project by Operation Starfish.