As morning dawn entered the world, especially here in the Felician Haiti Mission, the joy of Christmas was already filling the air. We began with prayer and praise :
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of your incarnate Word, the light of faith, which illumines our minds, may also shine through in our deeds.
After prayer and breakfast, it was down to work, putting over 200 packages under and around the Christmas tree.
It was like the Scriptures were being fulfilled in our hearing: “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us. So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:15-16) This certainly was true here in the Felician Haiti Mission.
The day’s program was led by youth and young adults who directed the program from beginning to end. As always, we began with prayer. Our prayer on this day is always the story of the birth of Jesus!
On Christmas Eve, preparations focus on our traditional Wigilia celebration. As with everything, we had to start the preparations ahead of time, so only the last-minute dishes of fish, pierogi, and borsch soup were being baked and cooked. The decorations for the feast were done, and all was ready for sharing the Christmas wafer of pardon and peace. It was a joy to have Eric and his beautiful family with us for this sacred time of sharing and gratitude for the blessings and challenges of the past year.
The STAR was doing the leading and guiding as preparations were being done in readiness for the Nativity of our Lord, JESUS CHRIST. By the end of the day, we had about 200 kids signed up for the feast. Some more gifts needed to be prepared; a count was taken to be sure that the cookies and candy would feed them all; and a check was made that the decorations would be finished.
Everyday, we have the opportunity to encounter Christ in one way or another, through our prayer and community, as well as a simple ring of the bell and knock at the gate. Every month, we get a visit from a very poor woman and her three children. Sometimes they come hungry, always in tattered and dirty clothes, and usually sick. This time it was all of the above; they were totally in need. We looked at each other and agreed: This is Christmas; Christ coming to our door and asking us to be sister and servant.
It has become a tradition at the Felician Mission that, on the Sunday before Christmas, we have a special prayer and dinner for our employees. It is a joy for us to celebrate with those who accompany us in serving the poor.
On Sunday, December 20, all those who share the mission with us came for the celebration. The Mother Angela Clinic Team; our cook for the Mother Angela Kitchen; our other workers, together with their spouses and children, joined in a wonderful afternoon of sharing the meaning of Christmas.
As always, we began with prayer and the tradition of sharing the sacred Christmas Wafer. The Word of God was shared from the Gospel of Luke, proclaiming the birth of Christ! Sister Inga shared the meaning of the Christmas Wafer and how we in our Felician family share wishes of peace, love and forgiveness. Being mindful of the COVID-19 virus we broke the wafer in pieces and placed them on individual plates. After using hand sanitizer we shared the wafer taking it from each others plates.
Some of you may know that, when we are in New Jersey, we are always busy anticipating another holiday feast. With that always in mind, we need to purchase things and send them in barrels to Haiti. Here we are preparing treat bags, filling them with chocolates and sweets for our kids for our Christmas Day celebration!
From December 10-13, the annual Advent Retreat–Connivance–for St. Michael’s Neocatechumenal community was held here at the Felician Mission. For all of these people, it is the only experience of taking time for their spiritual growth and health with the Lord. Centered in the Word, Eucharist and Community, our lives were able to be transformed, healed and forgiven.
On Tuesday, December 8, Dr. Jean Paul Bonnet and Hubert (his friend who was one of the first graduates of the Madonna University Program in Haiti) made their way here to the Felician Haiti Mission. This was the moment Dr. Bonnet and we have been waiting for–the beginning of the process of giving wells which will provide clean water to us, to the new catholic school that was built behind us, and to the bakery.
Meetings were scheduled with Bishop Touissaint, Father Bertrand (Director of Caritas), and representatives from the Water for Life well-diggers for Wednesday morning, December 9. God made a shift in the plan. Since there was a manifestation on the road to Jacmel the night before, no one could enter the city. This meant the Water for Life people could not be in Jacmel for the 9 a.m. meeting.
Again, we witnessed God’s lead in all this. We had a private meeting with the Bishop and Father Bertrand. We visited the site where the wells could go, and we saw the new piece of land for the bakery and cafe. Things began to unfold quickly.
On Friday, December 11, Jean Paul and Hubert, together with Fritz as their driver, went to Les Cayes, about a 3 1/2 hour ride from Jacmel, to see a bakery that was built by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Land was given by that diocese and, from funds collected, they are a well-running bakery. We are getting closer and closer to the fulfillment of a dream so needed to empower women and men for jobs and, most of all, sharing a Bread for Life through accompaniment, relationships, and empowerment. As Jean Paul would say: “All good!”
On Monday, December 7, our teens were invited for our annual Advent Penance Service that was led by Father Maurice. Each year, we have our Penance Service in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It is always a beautiful experience for us as we share Praise and Worship, silence, and God’s mercy together. After, we celebrated with PIZZA for all!