Haiti: Celebration of the 75 years of the Saint Gerard parish in a complicated socio-political context

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Since February 29, 2024, the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince and its surroundings have been experiencing a situation of terror where armed groups control up to 80% of the capital, increasing violence and deaths. This escalation of violence precipitates the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry after almost three years in power. However, to find lasting peace and a ceasefire from rioters, the International Community led by CARICOM and other countries created a Transitional Presidential Council with the participation of all political leaders.

This Transition Council has not achieved unanimity among the population; however, many people saw in it something that could facilitate a return to the normal situation in the streets of the Haitian capital. But, with the inauguration of the members of the Presidential Council last week, watching on Television the guests who participated in the said ceremony, anger and skepticism have invaded many observers since the same corrupt politicians who participated in the collapse of the country in recent decades, reappear with force on the political scene in order to hold on to political power again. As if this were not enough, rumours are heard in the media about the disagreement that exists between the members of the Transitional Presidential Council over the presidency of said council and about the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

On the other hand, armed groups continue to wreak havoc on the population and loot many buildings, both public and private. Worst of all, these days, they block access to fuel reserves. In this complicated social-political context, the Redemptorist missionaries of Haiti have celebrated with great joy the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Saint Gerard parish in the Carrefour-Feuilles neighbourhood.

The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Father Gilbert PELTROP, C.Ss.R. and animated by the Saint Gérard choir group. In his homily, Father PELTROP highlighted several historical aspects that marked May 1, 1949, when the Belgian Redemptorist missionaries inaugurated this new parish. At the same time, the president of the celebration thanked God for his mercy and for allowing this celebration in this difficult context that the capital is experiencing. Since the Saint Gerard parish means a past to be assumed, but even more, it means a present and a future to be built in hope. Each one must take responsibility for building the parish as a human community for the glory of God.

After the mass, a gastronomic and craft fair was organized in the courtyard of the newly built church where parishioners and members of the clergy gathered to share as a community and strengthen fraternal ties.

As Pope Francis says, “It is necessary to disarm the heart. Yes, because we are all armed with aggressive thoughts, one against another, with sharp words, and we think of defending ourselves with the barbed wire of complaint and the cement walls of indifference; and between complaints and indifference, we defend ourselves, but this is not peace; this is war. The seed of peace asks that the field of the heart be demilitarized.” (Angelus, November 1, 2022 )

I believe that these words of the Holy Father should echo in the heart of every Haitian politician so that they disarm their hearts, leaving behind the bad customs that lead the country into the abyss.

May Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Patroness of Haiti, and Saint Gerard, patron of the parish, show us new ways so that, through our missionary commitment, we can ensure, in unity, a long life for Saint Gerard parish.

Fr. Renold Antoine, C.Ss.R.