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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding a “New Normal” for the Priests of Haiti

“It is not normal here,” says Fr. Tom Hagan, OSFS. Fr. Tom, a missionary for 20 years in Haiti, can be forgiven for what may seem to us to be a statement of the obvious after what he has been through. Like most other priests ministering in Haiti, Fr. Tom experienced the earthquake along with the general population of the country. “It’s just so unnatural,” continued Fr. Tom, “living on the ground without much space or security or even bathroom facilities…it can wear on you. There is this constant stress, constant tension.”

This is the life of a priest, missionary or diocesan, in Haiti right now. Fr. Jonathon Gaspar, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and one of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Priest Secretaries, travelled last week with the Cardinal on a fact finding trip to the earthquake zone.
Fr. Jonathon spoke to a local priest whose story is very similar to Fr, Tom’s: while in his home, going about his normal life, he felt the ground shake and found himself crawling out of the destruction. Now, nothing is normal.

Fr. Jonathon tells a brother Priest’s story: “As a victim of the earthquake himself, he was one of the first to respond to the pressing needs of his people. He celebrates Mass for his people daily in a small garden behind where the Church and Rectory once stood. People crowd into the garden to hear the words of hope that this young priest shares from the Gospel. They celebrate the Eucharist on a makeshift Altar, constructed from slabs of concrete that were once the walls of his beautiful church. After he feeds the people with the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, he stands outside of the gate of the garden where hundreds of parishioners line up to receive food to bring home for their families. That priest is organizing the distribution of food to over four hundred families in his parish. He lives in a tent alongside his parishioners, he eats with them, he prays with them, and he cries with them. It became clearer to me that the Priest is indispensable in the life of the Church. Many people lost loved ones and everything they owned, but their priest survived, and his presence assured them of God’s presence. God is with the Haitian people, and He will continue to provide for their needs."

In an effort to send immediate help to the priests of Haiti, all offerings from the Propagation of the Faith’s Easter Mass Cards will be sent to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Papal Nuncio of Haiti; these Mass Offerings will be a lifeline to many of Haiti’s priests. These priests in turn are a lifeline to all of Haiti’s people.

For more information, call 617-542-1776 or email
A tip of the hat to George Martell of the Catholic Foundation for all photos.

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