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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 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.