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On Haiti's Patron Saint:
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
 --  8 February 2007

1.  On Monday, Feb. 5, 2007, all of Haiti celebrated a special Mass as a thank you and a re-consecration of the country to Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours--Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Fr. Nicolas explained the history at the Mass for the sisters that morning.  In about !861, a disease called veret began to spread in Haiti. I am not sure of the name in English, but Fr. Nico said it was like leprosy--bumps, then holes in the skin, and very contagious.  There was no treatment; the doctors and hospitals could do nothing.  People began to die by the hundreds, then by the thousands.  Every household was affected by the epidemic.  There were so many deaths that funerals could not be held.  Every town had a mass grave for the victims.  ( For those of you who have visited PdPaix, the mass grave was where the airport runway is now.).  The estimate was that about 200,000 people died.

In 1882, in desperation, one of the bishops in Port-au-Prince took a picture of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours up the mountain, blessed the country in all directions and asked for help.

Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours

The epidemic began to recede, and eventually stopped.  The country celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and Haiti was consecrated to Notre Dame. 

This year, 2007, marked the 125th Anniversary of the consecration. So the bishops decided to re-consecrate the country, to say thank you, and to ask for help with the current crises in the country.   At noon, all the churches were supposed to ring their bells in celebration.

Feeding the multitudes!

2.  On that same Monday, I went with Fr. Prophy to his parish in Chansolme--Notre Dame de Lourdes. The next day we walked up to La Visite to see the progress on the construction of the chapel.  The roof was on, and they were trying to finish the concrete on the floor.   As I talked to the school director during recess, we noticed that there was a great deal of noise in front of the school.  Fr. Prophy had gone out to one of the little tables near the school where the women make fried plaintain and other snacks for the students to buy.  He had bought all the food that was left, and he was passing out to the hungriest of the students for their lunch.

3.  We returned to PdPaix on Wednesday morning.  I noticed that there were some young men sitting on the top of the new office/house for the Bishop, admiring the view of Port-de-Paix. It was the welding crew for the security doors and windows waiting for delivery of more steel.  I think we will all be sorry when we can't go up to gaze out at the ocean.

Welding crew admiring the view of Port-de-Paix

Sr. Chemizie of LaCroix smiles in her humble kitchen

4.  Last week I went up to visit the Nigerian sisters who recently arrived at LaCroix.  Sr. Chemizie, the nurse, was the cook that day.  Not exactly a modern kitchen.

 5.  The Fdls sisters have received a new truck.  So they have asked me to drive them to the feast day in Chansolme this Sunday--Notre Dame du Lourdes.  "Avek pleasure."  It is only about a 40 minute drive, and the road is not so bad.  It is nice to be back to traveling.