Director of Medical Services, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™ International
Father Rick with Mother Teresa
When Rick Frechette became a Passionist priest in 1979, his goal was to minister to the spiritual health of humanity. Little did he know that one day he would also minister to the physical health of orphaned children and the needy.
Born in 1953, Frechette graduated from Assumption College in Massachusetts with degrees in math and philosophy. He next attended St. John’s University in New York and studied theology as a seminarian, being ordained a priest in 1979. After a few years as a parish priest in Baltimore, he met Fr. William B. Wasson, founder of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™ and worked in Mexico in 1983 at an old hacienda that had been converted to a home for nearly 1,000 orphaned and abandoned children. As a priest and administrator, his next calling was to Honduras to help establish a second orphanage for NPH.
Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity in Haiti directed Fr. Rick to the next turning point in his life. The sisters were caring for babies born of dying mothers, frequently sick with AIDS. Many of the babies did not survive, but those who did needed care, love and a place to live. Fr. Wasson and Fr. Rick visited the poor country and children’s hospice and decided to open an orphanage there. Today, Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs, French for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters,” survives amidst political chaos, economic disaster and uncontrollable crime.
Despite the obstacles, Fr. Rick is determined to make a difference in the lives of children. During particularly violent years of embargo, when it was suggested that the NPFS staff leave Haiti, Fr. Rick said, “How could we leave the children? What kind of shepherd would leave when the wolf comes?”
Making a difference meant going back to medical school to learn how to minister to the children’s physical needs, which resulted in his medical degree in 1998 from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, and becoming a general practitioner licensed in New York and Florida. “The poor people have scant access to medical care; even if they are lucky enough to get evaluated at a clinic, both scarcity of medicines and their relatively high prices prevent their getting treatment. Our own working conditions, especially in the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince, are tragic and are deplorable. We have little water, no electricity, few medicines and supplies,” states the doctor-priest.
Frechette's duties include oversight of the NPH Haiti and St. Luke Foundation programs of healthcare, education and formation. After the January 12, 2010 earthquake, Fr. Rick and his team went into high-gear serving more than 10,000 children and adults during the first three weeks.
Fr. Rick also serves as Medical Director of NPH International.