Praise the Lord! We have been in Jacmel, Haiti since 2012 and so many good things have happened that we wanted to share a few stories with you! Join us on our journey and please keep us in your prayers as we keep you in our prayers.
On Monday, November 23, Sr. Izzy had her first sewing class, marking the beginning of the Felician Sewing School. She had been preparing for this moment since last March. It was decided that she would begin with a small group of young adults that she knows and who already work with us in the Felician Mission. This is a sort of trial run to see what works; what is needed; and what is necessary. For now, Sr. Inga is helping to translate from Polish to Creole. Sr. Izzy is speaking more and more in Creole and continues to take classes twice a week.
On Tuesday, November 24, we welcomed back our children who had been baptized on October 9. These are the same children who are preparing for their first confession. At the end of class, we showed them the video of their Baptism, which had been created by Sr. Izzy.
On Saturday, November 21, Felician Sisters and Associates throughout the world celebrate the 165th anniversary of the founding of the Felician Sisters. Thank you all for accompanying us in making God known, loved and glorified throughout the world.
Mother Angela wrote in her Memoirs: “Whether devoting their time to prayer in the convent chapel, as Mary did in the temple, whether among the peasants, teaching their children and the nursing the sick…all these experiences should fill the sisters with great confidence…Jesus wanted to teach the sisters that, just as the Most Blessed Virgin dedicated herself without reserve to His service and totally resigned herself to His Holy Will, so too, they, by dedicating themselves to His Holy service, should be ready for everything.”
This morning we were blessed to offer our sacred space to the Cathedral choir for their day of recollection conducted by Father Emmanuel.
Today we would like to introduce to you Davi (short for Davinsky), who lives in the same household as Kasi. You may be thinking this sounds like a Polish name. Well, it is; there was a time when some Poles left the French army to help fight with Haitians for their freedom. People call Davinsky and Kasi brother and sister; but, in reality, they are cousins.
When we first met Davi, we heard people calling him Tata. This is the name those who gave him life called him. Tata is not a very nice word here in Haiti. It means “poop.” It certainly does not speak well of those who gave him life. Davi’s mother died soon after he was born.
Davi does not do well in school. He has difficulties with reading, writing, math, critical thinking skills. His only life experience is life on the streets. But Davinsky loves to come to the Felician Mission and participate in all our activities. He knows that he must behave in a certain way to be a part of our community, and he tries his best to do so. The day of his Baptism and First Holy Communion, by the smile on his face and the look in his eyes, it seemed to us it was first time he really felt like he belonged to something greater than himself, to God’s family.
Davi is 8 years old and is about 4 feet tall. Nobody ever knows where he is. He hangs around on the streets and is a very fast runner. When he plays sports with the boys, he plays with all his might. He never lets his height get in the way of what he can do. We are wondering if he will grow any taller than he is now.
In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: “The celebration of World Mission Day is also an occasion for reaffirming how prayer, reflection and the material help of your offerings are so many opportunities to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his Church.” We thank you for accompanying us in the Felician Haiti Mission. We all say here mesi…thank you!
Saturday, October 10, feast of Blessed Mary Angela was a glorious celebration with our First Holy Communion children. God indeed was known, loved and glorified in every moment of the day as the scriptures were fulfilled in our hearing, as we were invited to come to the feast.
We would like to let you know some personal stories of our children who recently received the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
Kasi is 13 years old and was accepted into a house of a relative. Her mother, after giving her birth, disappeared; and her father, living in Jacmel, did not want to take care of her. She is being raised by her grandmother. Kasi may be known as a girl of the streets.
For over 5 years, she has been coming to us; but, in the beginning, it was not a strong affiliation. It has not been easy for Kasi to keep any commitment. There was no one at home to prepare her or tell her it is time to go anywhere, for example, to school. She is always late for the after-school homework time and other activities, especially when we started preparation for the sacraments. But the desire in her grew while she saw others receiving the sacraments.
Two years ago, we started to focus on her in a special way. She received new feminine-looking clothes, and her hair was washed and done by one of our teen girls; she felt pretty. Kasi found she has a beautiful singing voice, and she was prepared to sing a psalm for one of our celebrations. Kasi’s attitude at times is still not the best as she looks for ways to gain our attention. She is a born leader and many times draws other girls to follow her, not always in the best direction. For the third time, Kasi is going to be in the same grade–Grade 3.
Working with God, we still have a lot of work before us with Kasi. But we know God is not giving up, and we will try to be faithful, too. The days of her Baptism and First Holy Communion have been days of awakening and new life for her. She realized that she can dance and sing and that she is beautiful and loved, most of all by God.
The past two days have been ones of great joy for, by the Lord has this been done! Some of the poorest of our children were Baptized and then received their First Holy Communion.
On Friday, October 9, twelve children were Baptized. The next day, Saturday, the feast of Blessed Mary Angela, those children–8 years of age and older–received their First Holy Communion. These two days were a taste of what the Gospel proclaims today. It was so beautiful! The question is how have we responded to God’s invitation to the banquet – the Eucharistic banquet of bread and wine, of celebration and community? We witnessed this yesterday.
Jesus repeatedly gives us the challenge to live what He preached throughout His earthly ministry; that Good News was and is to “Get ready! The Kingdom of God is at hand.” We saw it for a moment here on Friday and Saturday. What does heaven look like? The closest answer is this: The kingdom is here among us, but not yet. It is somehow earthly, but not quite. And when we accept the royal invitation, when we gather at the table of the Lord, we will catch a glimpse of the kingdom. We will experience a foretaste of the royal celebration, the Messianic banquet in the Kingdom.
It is around the table of the Lord, in community, that we will find our deepest identity, of who we truly are. The kingdom of God looks like that. Yesterday it was witnessed here among the poorest of the poor who might have never had an opportunity to come to the feast if God had not used the Felician Haiti Mission to do that. These children have been preparing for the past two years to be welcomed into the Church and to gather around the Eucharistic table.
There were soo many gifts and talents that God had pulled together to make it happen: Sr. Inga, director of the Faith Formation Program and the catechists; Sr. Marilyn and Annette, director of Liturgy and Music; Sr. Izzy who made all the dresses and crowns for the girls, with the help of Rosemarie, and the white smocks for the boys. Yes, the Kingdom of God is at hand.
“O Mary, my mother, remember that I am yours, guard me and protect me as your possession.” Mother Mary Angela
It was sunset when we gathered to remember that Saint Francis died just after sunset on October 3. He recited Psalm 142 and, during the closing verse, he died. This event is solemnly recalled each year by Franciscans all over the world to honor their holy Father’s entrance into joy. Here in Jacmel, Haiti, we gathered as a local home to remember…
St. Francis reminds us how we are to be living Gospels to all. And so we gathered to remember…
It is written in the Life of St. Francis that “As the brothers shed bitter tears and wept inconsolably, the holy father had bread brought to him. He blessed and broke it, and gave each of them a piece to eat. He also ordered a Book of the Gospels to be brought and asked that the Gospel according to Saint John be read to him, starting from the place which begins…. (John 13: 1‐15) before the feast of Passover….He was remembering that most sacred Supper, the last one the Lord celebrated with his disciples. In reverent memory of this, to show his brothers how much he loved them, he did all of this.”
We pray, Loving God and Lord of all life, as we assemble in faith and thanksgiving. We believe in the power of your call to Gospel conversion and the summons to rebuild your house. As we remember the birth into eternal life of our Seraphic Father Francis, help us die to ourselves and so live for you. Let the mystery of the cross and resurrection, with its promise of life eternal, so inflame us with love as to free us to pour out our lives in loving service to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord.