The Portal April 2018 - Page 20

THE P RTAL April 2018 Page 20 Aid to the Church in Need The Church in Haiti – giving light to those in darkness Murcadha O Flaherty reports H urricane Matthew hit Haiti in 2016 – killing at least 877 people, causing catastrophic damage to buildings and plunging parts of the country into darkness. Aid to the Church in Need’s Marco Mencaglia spoke about the practical and symbolic importance of light for the faithful. Describing the blessings brought by solar panels in the months following the hurricane, he said: “In the evenings, the entire village gathered around the presbytery so as not to be plunged into total darkness. Light plays a decisive role in making it possible for these communities to have hope.” In remote parishes “the presbytery was the only building in a 10 to 20 km radius with a stable supply of energy. We saw how hundreds of people came to the presbytery in the mornings to charge their mobile phones.” Mr Mencaglia also said, “Thanks to solar energy, the priests can maintain daily contact with the diocese and the world.” to transport the sick to the hospital, a connection to the world outside… For thousands of communities in Haiti, the priest and the Church represent the soul and hope.” He added, “In most communities, the church is the only building in which not only pastoral events, but also social ones can be held. Without exaggerating, we can claim that without the church, many of these villages do not have any hope for the future.” Confirming the benefits for parishioners and others in creating a community around churches in Jérémie Diocese on Haiti’s west coast, after the area was almost totally destroyed by category five With Haiti now suffering greater hardship after hurricane winds, Father Barthelemy Feuille said, “The natural disasters, including the worst hurricane in 50 foundation of a new parish is a moment of hope, [it] years and the earthquake in 2010, ACN’s Latin America means joy for the entire village” expert stressed the encouragement the faithful take from young men becoming priests. He said, “Haiti has Bishop Desinord Jean of Hinche is committed to many troubles – misery can be seen everywhere. These forming priests in Haiti and is carrying out a careful young men represent hope. selection of candidates through a propaedeutic (or preliminary instruction) year. The bishop is also Their enthusiasm and their love for the church helping many dedicated and young priests – some are a light within the darkness that we need to keep only 25 years old – who already hold a great deal of alive.” The charity is supporting 315 candidates for responsibility, having assumed their first positions in the priesthood living in temporary housing after the struggling parishes. seminary at Port-au-Prince was destroyed by the earthquake six years ago. ACN is also supporting the Parishes in Haiti are flourishing, including Our Lady Sisters of Cluny in Morne à Cabrit, Port-au-Prince to of the Miraculous Medal in Village Créole in Hinche reconstruct their residence. near the border with the Dominican Republic. With ACN’s support – and Our Lady’s – 70,000 impoverished Amid violence, political unrest and wide-spread parishioners followed the example of the widow who hunger in the western hemisphere’s poorest country, the gave “everything she had, her whole living” (Mark presence of a Catholic minister can help rebuild local 12:44) and made sacrificial contributions to the communities. Mr Mencaglia said, “[T]he arrival of a priest church’s construction. also means access to basic provisions in places forgotten by the government: a school that is run in the church Aid to the Church in Need - www.acnuk.org building during the week, a vehicle for emergencies and contact: acn@acnuk.org or call 020 8642 8668