The birth of a new parish in rural Haiti: A story by Erik Oland, SJ

March 16, 2020 — On my recent trip to Haiti I visited the southern peninsula for the first time. This is the region of the country that was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Part of our itinerary was to visit the village of Carrefour Charles, located in the Massif de la Hotte part way between the northern and southern coasts. The village is typical of a mountain crossroads settlement; a gathering point for villagers and local farmers, and a rest-stop for travellers. The local community has been desirous of having its own parish for several years and most recently the local bishop, Jesuit Gontran Décoste, asked the Society to discern the possibility of providing a priest for the potential new parish. In the Haitian context a new parish church means also an elementary school and a local health centre.    

As we drove into the village, after our twisting and turning mountain drive from Les Cayes, I sensed immediately that our arrival had been anticipated by everyone we passed. Our entry into the village was announced by the sounding of the village bell and as we approached the meeting point – the makeshift chapel that has been the locus of prayers and liturgies of the word for the past number of years – the villagers began to gather behind our vehicle in increasing numbers. By the time we reached the chapel, there were a hundred or so people of all ages moving into the cramped space awaiting the prayer and conversation that was about to take place. I later learned that they had been told that a very important Jesuit had come all the way from Canada to indicate the openness of the Society to undertake such a project. 

The ensuing prayer and conversation were full of spirit and hope. Local leaders expressed their wish to move forward with the project and we, the Jesuits, expressed our gratitude for the welcome and the obvious ground-swell of energy surrounding the possibility of our commitment. During the entire experience I was conscious of Jesus’s advice to the disciples upon sending them out to villages and byways:

Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. (Mt 10, 11-13)

We could not have been welcomed more heartily and sincerely. Indeed, Carrefour Charles is very fertile ground and it is opportune to heed the Gospel imperative of responding to the welcome of the villagers and to join them in the creation of their new parish dedicated to Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus.





Recent News

March 23, 2020 —But how should those of us in North America understand Querida Amazonia? In what ways do the fruits of this synod concern us?

While a large proportion of the Canadian population is in self isolation due to Coronavirus Covid-19, technology is vital to sustaining our need for human contact. So, in a today's context, how can technology help us to maintain personal connections and build community?

We would like to offer this simple method for praying together online with the Word of God. Though many dioceses have cancelled the Sunday Eucharist to help civil authorities slow the transmission of the coronavirus, the Church is first and foremost the people of God gathered together as the Body of Christ.

March 9, 2020 — Wikwemikong was selected to pilot activities that would contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), a project supporting conversion of fossil fueled appliances to appliances heating with wood pellets.

February 26, 2020 — Come and share a moment of discussion and reflection with Peter Bisson, SJ, who will speak about his experience on Thursday 19 March during a Discover Soirée at the Villa Saint-Martin. A time for personal reflection will follow.

February 20, 2020 — The Jesuits of Canada have urged the Government of Canada to work "assiduously toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict now underway in the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en People".

February 17, 2020 — The current conflict between the Wet’suwet’en First Nations and Coastal GasLink has to do with a natural gas pipeline that Coastal Gaslink wants to build, some of which would pass through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in the northwestern central interior of British Columbia.

view all news

Search news

Publications

CJI Mission News

Canadian Jesuits

Campion's Brag



Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre
Since 1946, Manresa has welcomed retreatants to grow closer to God on 21 beautiful acres in ...