On Mass in a
palm-leaf chapel and the gift of the Sisters who
minister in Haiti
-- 1 March 2007
I had been trying to get
to the far West for about 2 weeks, but Pere Cholet was
not coming this way, and the two rides going that way
changed their plans. Finally, a ride materialized from
an unexpected source. On Feb. 14, three of the Filles de
LaSagess sisters came to PdPAix for the dedication of
the new school (rebuilt after the fire of April, 2005),
and they were going to Mare Rouge--which is 2/3 of the
way to Bombard--and they had a space for me. Pe Cholet
picked me up there on Friday.
I spent a few days with Pere Cholet--helping him drive
to Masses at the Chapel of DesForges, visiting the sick
in Bombard with communion (because the sisters of
Bombard had not yet returned from Colombia), visiting
Steve and Faith Leach at the Bombard hospital, and
helping with the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday.
Approaching the chapel at Mort Tet
Entering the chapel at Mort Tet
I had wanted to try
to visit the sisters of TiRivye, but that was not going
to work out. And then, it did. Pere Cholet wanted to
go there for Ash Wednesday. Sr. Enden was there, along
with Sr. Annimma, who is on the ICM (Immaculate Heart of
Mary) provencial council in St. Croix. Sr. Annima had
arrived in early January to accompany Sr. Enden after
the unexpected death of Sr. Griet in mid-December.
Otherwise, Sr. Enden would have been alone, and that
would not be so good in this very isolated location.
Sr. Annimma had helped to open the community in TiRivye
in 1998, and she had worked there for 2 years. So it
was sort of a homecoming for her--visiting old friends.
It was also a time for her to meet with Sr. Enden to
discuss the future of the community in TiRivye. They
have a shortage of sisters and some communities are
going to have to close.
After their business
meeting on Thursday, Sr. Enden had made arrangements for
Fr. Cholet to visit the newly-founded post of Mort Tet
(dead head or head of the dead--no one seems to know the
significance of the name). It is the 13th post the ICM
sisters have founded in that area--and TiRivye is not
yet a parish!!
After a 30 minute drive on a dry road, we arrived at
Mapou. Then after a 30 minute walk on a level path, we
arrived at Mort Tet. Not so bad. Eventually, about 60
people arrived for the Mass--about half of them under 16
years of age--in the newly-constructed "building". The
palm leaves covering the roof were still green, and the
benches were newly cut short branches stuck in the dirt,
with longer branches as the seats. But the music was
lively, and the Mass was a special time.
The gifts for the offering at Mass: local peanuts,
citron (little limes) and candies
The youngest members of the congregation
After Mass, we drove
about 30 minutes farther along to meet with a young man
who would like to be the new driver for the sisters.
Sr. Enden had asked Fr. Cholet to evaluate the young
man's driving.....so Demoline drove us back to TiRivye.
We all agreed that he needs a little more experience
before he has to drive in difficult circumstances.
Saturday, we visited
another mountain post, Lister. This time, though, the
road was not so good, and it had been raining, so there
was a lot of mud. This post is older, and the building
is stone, with a leaky metal roof. Unfortunately, the
rain began again, and we all had to re-locate to the
left side of the room.
Sunday, after Mass in TiRivye, Pere Cholet and I left
for Port-de-Paix. That evening at supper, Sr. Marthe
mentioned that 33 sisters of the Filles de La Sagesse
community have died in the past 6 months, in 20
countries around the world. In the Port-de-Paix house,
3 of the 8 sisters are over 80 years old, and there are
only 2 in the Noviate this year.
The tambor musicians after Mass
Sr. Enden and Fr. Cholet giving Communion
And what happens when all the sisters are gone......from
TiRivye, from Port-de-Paix, from other rural areas. For
some reason, their absence is more striking to me here
than in the US.
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