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

Brother Frechette died on 3 June in the palliative care unit at the Oshawa General Hospital. He was in his 87th year and had been a Jesuit for 63 years. From 1978 until a few weeks before his death he was devoted to the Jesuit school and parish in St. John’s, NL.

June 1, 2020 — Before our interview, I had beenwas told that Fr. Marc Rizzetto, SJ, was very funny, very deep, and also…very busy... Nothing I learned in the interview that I finally managed to have with him did anything to dispel these rumours.

May 27, 2020 — On Wednesday, 22 April 2020, Erik Oland, Provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, received notice that an outbreak of COVID-19 had been declared at our infirmary in Pickering, Ontario. By Monday, 27 April, five Jesuits had arrived to provide personal care and custodial support.

May 25, 2020 — What was Fr. Nicolás' impact on Canadian Jesuits and the Jesuit Province of Canada? What contributions did he offer to Jesuits around the world? We present here the testimonies of four Jesuits from Canada and an international one.

May 25, 2020 – In two of the more memorable and elegantly simple ceremonies in recent history, Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall, ordained 5 deacons and Kevin Kelly, SJ (CAN), to the priesthood.

Father Mike Murray died on 18 May, 2020 at the Ajax Pickering Hospital. He was in his 83rd year and had been a Jesuit for 63 years. He served as the first director of Anishinabe Spiritual Centre. In 2010, was appointed as President of Loyola High School in Montreal.

Father Charlie Sitter died peacefully on May 9 at René Goupil House in Pickering, ON. He was in his 94th years and was a Jesuit for 75 years. He had a passion for books and art and thus, he would serve his various communities as house librarian and artistic decorator.

view all news

Search news


CJI Mission News

CJI Mission News (Winter 2020)

Canadian Jesuits

Loyola House / Ignatius Jesuit Centre
Built in 1964, Loyola House in Guelph, ON has welcomed over 60,000 people of all faiths to deepen ...