The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Heart for Haiti

Regular readers know that I often make references to Haiti. Whether it is as part of a Holy Childhood presentation in a school or parish, highlighting a missionary’s work there or thanking the people of Boston for gifts that have made their way to that beautiful island, Haiti never leaves my radar screen. This is because my very first trip for the Pontifical Mission Societies was to Haiti. My heart never came home.

During that trip, Haiti was much as it was on the day before the earthquake: profoundly poor and struggling. It had a low literacy rate (about 52%) and an even lower per capita income: more than half of Haitians lived on less than $1 a day.

Some people would call a place like that hopeless. The missionaries I met and worked with called it fertile ground.

My host during that life changing time was Fr. Tom Hagan, OSFS. His house, now destroyed, was our base as we saw schools, orphanages, clinics and feeding programs. My experiences there were profound. I bandaged and helped stitch up patients in a “Wound Care Clinic” for the homeless of the capital city – really nothing more than a stoop in an alley where people knew they could get some form of medical care. Other than kissing my children’s scraped knees, I had no training. In that dirty alley, I received more than I could ever give: the opportunity to serve Jesus in my brothers and sisters.

In an orphanage, I fed and cleaned babies who died long before any earthquake could claim them, victims of HIV/AIDS, TB or simple, but no less deadly, malnutrition. After a long day of moving from crib to crib in an endless routine of porridge and rags used as diapers, I asked one of the Sisters, “How do you do this every day?” Her beatific smile came quickly with the simple truth: “Only by the grace of God, my dear!”

I praise God that Fr. Tom survived; he already has a plan to begin the recovery process. But he and missionaries like him will need our help long after the earthquake has dropped off the front pages. For that reason, the Pontifical Mission Societies in the USA has established a long term Haitian Solidarity Fund.

Visit Haiti online at our website:
and please, leave your heart there.

-Maureen Crowley Heil

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