I had the great fortune to spend the Easter Triduum in Jean Bellune, a remote rural area in the Grand’Anse, at the parish of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. This has truly been a conversion experience and made my faith come alive again. It had gotten kind of dry and perfunctory, but my living the paschal mystery in that extremely poor parish has rekindled my passion, and I am very grateful for that experience.
What really touched me those days, was seeing all the celebrations taking place in a church that is still marked by the devastation caused by hurricane Matthew, but nonetheless all the cloth used was impeccably white and clean, and after a while one did not even see the poverty but rather the people who came in great numbers and who faithfully participated in the mysteries. That showed me that it is the people who are important, they make the church. The way of the cross was quite moving, because it stretched along a difficult road, but nobody complained about walking for 2 hours.
I would also like to share two experiences that have made their mark on me during that time. One had to do with a high school student whose foster mother had a stroke, and it was not sure if she would recover. The foster mother was ill for almost 3 months, and thank God, did recover. When we asked the high school student what she had learned through this experience the young woman said “I learned to suffer”. I see this as an expression of solidarity with all those who are suffering, she now knew what it was like. The other experience had to do with a young woman who works at the rectory of the parish. She had just started to work there, and when she came she was so emaciated, she truly was only skin and bones. She had promised God that if he would help her find a job, she would give back her full first month salary. And indeed she did, when she was paid her first salary she gave the full amount to the church. This, despite the pastor telling her she did not have to give all of it. But she said she made a promise and she wants to keep it. This is a young woman who has absolutely no other resources. Just amazing, and I am grateful I have been able to witness it.