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Westborough, MA 01581
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Mission Outreach
Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in Haiti

The Westborough News, July 31, 2009

Investing in Hope in Haiti

Westhborough Youth Minister keeps link with Haitian orphanage alive

By Scott O’Connell

For 10 years now, and most recently this month, Gloria Josephs has been making the trek to Haiti to visit the children of the “Our Little Brothers and Sisters” orphanage.

During her trips, the Youth Ministry Director at St. Luke’s Parish Center in Westborough has seen the Caribbean nation change under political and economic pressures. Through it all Haiti remains a dangerous country, she said, as well as impoverished, cut off from the tourism trade that benefits nearby islands like Jamaica and even its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

In the remote mountain town of Kenscoff, however, Our Little Brothers and Sisters offers hope that the next generation of Haitians’ poorest may be able to find a better life in the country. Founded by Father Rick Frechette of the U.S. 22 years ago, the orphanage has received thousands of dollars as well as supplies during the last 10 from St. Luke’s. The partnership was established through Josephs, who went to college with Frechette.

Josephs has since traveled to the orphanage annually to help out — “I do as much as I possibly can,” she said. ‘1f they need something painted, I paint.” She also hopes to relay information back to Westborough to show donators how their contributions are helping. At minimum. St. Luke’s usually donates around $5,000 per year, Josephs said, “but typically we send several more thousand, because people are generous.,’

First and foremost the money helps the orphanage’s children eat. Even though they get simple rice and bean meals-”A treat is occasionally chicken,” Josephs said - the opportunity to receive regular nourishment is one they might not have had on the outside.

The approximately 500 orphans who populate Our Little Brothers and Sisters are ‘literally abandoned children,” Josephs said, “found on the road or left at the hospital.” Handicapped children are especially likely to be cast away, since parents rarely have the knowledge or resources to raise them.

Manned by volunteers and locals, the orphanage attempts to give the children another chance at life, providing them an education and life skills. The orphans wake up at 5 in the morning every day, Josephs said, to clean their cloths, sweep their living quarters and perform other tasks.

‘The kids are very respectful,” she said. “Sometimes you wish the kids here (in America) were that respectful. They know what the expectations are.”

Even in the relative comfort of the orphanage, life is not easy, however. Electricity and naming water are rationed as they are available. And the harsh realities of life outside can be delayed only so long. “A handful at best” of the orphans go on to study at universities, Josephs said; the rest attend trade schools or enter the workforce, but “there is little opportunity for jobs.”

What really needs to happen to improve Haitians’ fortunes, Josephs said, is a drastic change in Haiti’s leadership.

“They need a real government presence,” she said. “Basically there’s no infrastructure” in the country, she added, a reality that often has been exploited by recent regimes. U.S. involvement could aid this transformation, she believes — she hoped President Barack Obama would follow former President Bill Clinton’s lead and visit the country to see what could be done.

In the meantime, Josephs said St Luke’s would continue to provide support to Our Little Brothers and Sisters.

“St. Luke’s is very onboard with this,” she said.
For over ten years now, St Luke’s has supported financially and spiritually the orphanage in Haiti. This orphanage was founded in 1987 and cares for over five hundred children. In addition, a new children’s hospital has been built to serve the poorest children in the Western Hemisphere.

Each Christmas and Easter St Luke’s sends $2500. In addition, the parish has had fundraisers to add to our donations. If you wish to make a donation, please make a check payable to St Luke’s with a memo marked "Haiti". Thank you for your support over the years.

From Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving, (and Isaiah to Isaiah)

Dear friends,

About a week ago, when i was driving across Port au Prince to help the Sisters in their clinic,
I found a woman on the street in the grips of death.

She was entering a coma from eclampsia, in only her 8th month of pregnancy, and I had to act fast on her behalf, calling a friend at a private hospital to assure her a place. I paid a truck (tap-tap) to race her there, since I could not, in any way, fit her in my small off road "polaris", and there was no time to lose looking for an ambulance.

There were a ton of obstacles to her care, including that she was in a full coma on arrival, was herself a minor, and the sonogram of the baby showed no movements of the body except for a rapid heartbeat.

I tell can you now that miraculously, the premature baby is doing well and the mother came out of coma about six hours after the cesarean section.
Since the mom was only 17 years old, the nurses taught her to breastfeed her baby.

Yesterday, at the Sisters clinic, a young woman came to me with terrible burns on her neck and chest, which were an agony for her.
The scars, the weeping wounds, and skin tightly webbing her neck and freezing her in one position.

This burn from a gas stove happened 10 months ago.

Now in October, she was finally able to find help, since she could find no means to pay for her involved care. Every cent she finds buys food for her 2 year old baby.

She was crying with heavy sobs, as I listened and tried to console her. Her husband is dead. She cannot work. She cannot even turn her head.
She cried the cry i have seen too many times. Someone tired of life, anguished that she cannot work to feed her child, and seeing no way out.

I sent her for surgery and follow up treatments with a burn specialist and plastic surgery. I am confident she will find relief, and enjoy some pretty good improvements. I also promised her a first stock of provisions, that she can sell from her home, to start a small storefront to support her child and herself.

Within days after this, there was a terrible case reported on the radio, that thieves attacked and robbed a poor family in the countryside.
They sliced the father up with a machete and raped his two year old daughter.

Hearing this dreadful news was sickening, but very shortly after they were right in front of my eyes, in their great distress and pain.
They had come to us for help.

I want to thank you for enabling rapid and excellent help for these unfortunate people, victims of violence, accident and poverty.

You have shown how much you care about our work in Haiti, by your prayers for us, your messages of support and your donations to help us keep making a big difference.

As you know, aside from the individual tragedies which come to us, over the past 30 years, we have helped build and strengthen communities by building strong networks in education, healthcare, agriculture, disaster relief, and works of mercy like burying thousands of destitute dead.

Our mission in Haiti is vital. It is authentic work. it is pleasing to God.

Of course our work needs funding. Over the years, we have managed to generate more than a third of the income we need right here in Haiti, through

farming (dairy, honeybees, crops, tilapia),
small contribution from those coming to our hospitals (care is never denied to those who cannot contribute),
the production and sale of bread, pasta, cement block, cobblestones for roadbuilding,
the promotion of solar energy and setting up systems for small institutions,
and many other activities that generate funds.

But, as long as we are taking care of very poor people with limited means, the majority of funds we need have to come from outside of Haiti.

As I begin my 31st year in Haiti, (as a rather young 64 year old man, priest, and physician), I am asking for your help.
I would like to get my next 30 years in Haiti off to a good start!

I want to avoid traveling out of Haiti to fundraise (I feel what I can offer is more valuable here on the ground).

I also want to avoid investing big money to raise money. (Currently, upwards of 96% of funds raised in USA for our work in Haiti, comes to do its work in Haiti)

This is where you can help.
Will you help me, with a home grown effort, raise $5,000,000, to help fund our work in Haiti during 2018?

The timeline (as measured by the calendar) will be from Thanksgiving 2017 and Thanksgiving 2018. (Thankful we all are - for the many good things in life, and for Divine help with the really difficult parts!)

The timeline (as measured by the year of Grace) will be from Advent 2017 to Advent 2018 (represented by the beautiful and hopeful messages of the prophet Isaiah, envisioning a new beginning of life, of hope, of peace!)

So, we start within the next days, before November ends!

Can we together, through our pyramids of friends, try to find:

5,000,000 people to give St Luke Foundation one dollar, or
500,000 people to give St Luke Foundation ten dollars?

or how about:

500 people to give (or raise) ten thousand dollars, or
50 people to give or raise one hundred thousand dollars?

Our work is authentic and important in Haiti. Our methods are humble and faith filled. The way we approach donors leads to 95% of funds coming directly to Haiti.

I hope we can preserve all of these advantages.

If you can help me raise $1000 or more during 2018, please email me directly at

As Thanksgiving approaches, I thank God for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!
and Blessed Advent!

Thanks for any way you can help!

Fr Richard Frechette

Letter from Fr. Rick

Dear friends and family,

Since the day after hurricane Matthew, we have been scrambling to respond to many pleas for help, mostly from friends.

One of those pleas has been a pretty continuous call from Fr David Fontaine, a brother priest who was begging for help for three cut off and isolated areas: D'Asile, Grand Boucan and Baraderes.

While traveling to Abricot (Jeremy)  and Dame Marie in the days right after Matthew to reach our staffs there, (even cutting our way through the fallen trees to get there), I was on the email constantly trying to get a helicopter to reach Fr David and his flock in these three places. 

Three days ago, after one aborted effort to get to D'Asile by land, we were finally able to get there with food and water- after two blown truck tires and getting stuck in the mud in two different river crossings.

Yesterday I decided that since I still cannot get a helicopter, we would try to reach Grand Boucan and Baraderes by boat.

We have already lost one of our caravans to brigands, who robbed us at gunpoint at Carrefour Charles at Corail, as we headed to Pestel. 

When Charles Dickens started his Tale of Two Cities with the warning: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he sure knew what he was talking about.

In the extremes of times, both the best and the worse are very much present. You can see around you saints and angels, demons and hell, and also the usual herd of apathetics.

Interestingly enough, of these three groups, God seems to like the apathetics least.  He says:

"15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of my mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)

I think the logic of God's opinion on this, is that because people who make choices for evil still have passion, (which apathetic people lack), and passion at least has the possibility of becoming passionate for Good. 

When push comes to shove, God prefers bad people to apathetic ones. They can still be redeemed.

So yesterday we loaded up 500 sacks of rice and 500 sacks of water (with 60 small bags/sack) and headed toward Petit Trou de Nippes, where we would sleep at the parish house and head off in boats this morning.

At 10pm last night, we were nearly at the parish house when, in front of a very small village, two tires of the heavy truck exploded. The village people were first scared, and then smiled, thinking what luck that this truck destined for somewhere else was now their bounty.

They first came and stood around in large numbers. This truck was contracted just for this trip, and the driver did not have a lug wrench or a jack. We had to send some of our team on motorcycle to find some "tire men" who might have the right size gear.

In the middle of nowhere, this took about 2 hours. During that time, some armed young people came to make their claim.

We were completely in their hands.

And then two things happened. 

A little girl names Guerlande, who has been at our children's hospital for heart disease, recognized Fr Enzo and called out to him. 

The armed men saw the sick girl approach and embrace the priest. 

At the same time, Raphael recognized one of the bandits as being from his old neighborhood. Raphael took out a little rum, shared it, and then stories of childhood flowed.

We were delivered.

Finally reaching the parish house, itself a victim of Matthew, Fr Luckson gave us small mattresses, so we could lay down and try to sleep (and get chewed up by mosquitos). 

Before I got my mat, i was invited by Lukson into the church. He said he wanted to show me something. 

He explained the church was built in the 1600's, pretty much by accident. Ships passing this area to build the Cathedral in Jeremy became grounded there, and so they decided to build a midpoint warehouse on the spot. The place later became a little town, graced by a Church. The Church of the Nativity.

And there over the altar, an original painting of Leonardo Da Vinci, of the babe in swaddling clothes with his mother and father. 

The painting has become so weathered and worn, if a museum procurator were to see it, she would have a heart attack on the spot. (And as I am sure you suspect, there are no defibrillators in Petit Trou de Nippes.)

A beautiful baby, born in darkness and starkness. 

We set out early in the morning for the boats we rented by phone contact. We had no idea of their size, age, or seaworthiness.

We soon saw the leaks could be easily bailed by bucket, and that two trips using three boats a trip would do it for all that rice and water.

We started loading the boats. The first began to tilt and rock. It looked like it would tip over. All the people watching cheered.

This was a second group to think that the voyage was not possible, and so the bounty theirs.

After a while we went sputtering across the bay to Grand Boucan, to deliver the food to isolated victims of Matthew.

As soon as the boat launched, the small crew took condoms out of their pockets.

Good God. What now?

The opened them, rolled them over their cell phones and tied them at the bottom, to keep them safe from the splashing water.

Finally, a use of condoms that does not provoke moral debate! 

We also covered our phones. As they say, any port in a storm.

We made it easily to Grand Boucan, but we could not make the second trip to Baraderes. The priest of Baraderes, Fr Jean Philippe, called and said he could not control the thieves at his wharf.

When I heard this I thought, if only he had grown up with one of the thieves. 

If only he had held one of their children in his arms when she was sick.

If only he would open a small bottle of rum to share.

The truth is, the world is as much saved by what we have done, as it is by what we do. The best way to go through life is building bridges, forging bonds, and cuddling children in our arms.

I am back to looking for a helicopter for Baraderes.

The best of times, the worst of times. A hurricane and a DaVinci original meet up in a tiny Haitian town.

The cycnics around us will scoff. The apathetics in our company will yawn. 

But those open to new life, like a baby born in a darkness and starkness of a  hurricane-ravaged country, will look eagerly forward to the work of building a future in hope.


Fr Richard Frechette

Port au Prince HAITI

11 October, 2016

Reported by Father Rick Frechette, CP, National Director, NPH Haiti
Posted January 5, 2015
For the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I commissioned a painting based on
1 Corinthians 15:52:

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

This painting is beautifully done by Donna-Marie Hayes, and was digitally printed onto six banners 10 feet by 12 feet. A banner will be hung at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, St. Luke Hospital, St. Helene Home, Fr. Wasson Angels of Light Home, Don Bosco Program and at Titayin where the dead are buried.

The banner will serve as a call to prayer for each Sunday of 2015, for the children to pray: for those who died, for those who helped during the disaster, in thanksgiving for all the help that has been life saving for these past five years and for a brighter future for Haiti and for the world.

Twenty-two of our university students were chosen to make a pilgrimage to pray for Haiti, half going to St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome and half going to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Unfortunately visas were not granted for Rome, so all 22 went to Washington on January 1, 2015 for one week.

Mass will be offered in Washington with the same prayer intentions mentioned above. We will take advantage of their time in Washington to have a session on leadership with Dr. Michael Maccoby and they will also meet with Frank Krafft to hear about his experiences with Fr. Wasson, and his and Polly's challenges supporting the homes. These sessions are to tie the students more to the history of NPH and to Fr. Wasson's vision.

On Monday, January 12, 2015 we will have the following schedule:

  • The children from Fr. Wasson Angels of Light program will begin a procession at 8 am with flowers to St. Damien Chapel, where the first dead of the earthquake are buried. They will lay flowers at those graves and we will have a solemn mass for the deceased at 9 a.m.
  • We will have prayers at the former St. Damien Hospital in Petionville at the earthquake memorial and lay a wreath there in honor of Ryan Kloos, Molly Hightower and all the victims of the earthquake.
  • We will have a candle light mass at Titanyin where many of the victims are buried, at 4:53 p.m.
  • At 4:53 p.m. the bell of St. Damien Chapel will toll 50 times, 10 times for each year since the earthquake.

We will have many visitors for the anniversary and we encourage those who will not join us to remember us in prayers.            

Commemorating the Fifth Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake - 2015

Oil painting by Donna-Marie Hayes, Project Haiti Board member. Concept by Fr. Rick Frechette.

The symbolism: Three figures represent the Haitian people who endured the devastation of the January 12, 2010 earthquake, who also symbolize the universality of suffering.

Arms supplicating Heaven – their faces in peaceful acceptance, this represents the strength and grace with which the Haitian people bore their pain and anguish during the earthquake, and the lifting up of their sufferings to God in faith, as witnessed by the depth of their prayers, and the richness of the lament and hope that resounded their singing.

The angels represent the constant work of God to rescue and save, and to bring redemption out of suffering.

The flame against the sunset above the heavenly blue sky is a graceful triumph of life and light over death and darkness.

Dressed in colors of a flame, the figures form the wick of the candle, the light of life.

The purple candle is the color of suffering, and is also the royal color of God’s abiding compassion.

The candle is surrounded by brokenness and disaster – the date, carved into the wax. This was the starting point of the ascent of the flame.

Hope springs from the foliage and vines and shows that time has passed and life has come again.
Oil painting by Donna-Marie Hayes, Project Haiti Board member. Concept by Fr. Rick Frechette.

From Fr. Rick
December 20, 2014

Dear friends,

I write these words on the fourth of the seven golden nights

It’s a Catholic tradition for the last 1600 years, to beg God’s help for humanity on seven consecutive nights, starting on December 17 and ending at Christmas.

Each of the seven prayers is offered in the evening, each is brief and powerful, each is taken from the Scriptures, and together they bind the ages of history with a single golden thread. This is why they are called the golden nights

Each of the prayers is also the entry song for the famous canticle of vespers called the Magnificat, which although it applies to Mary, and echoes far back into the Bible, is for the one praying a way to give God permission to use them in any way helpful to the salvation of the world

The idea of salvation is far from uniform among the worlds many religions, but for sure in the Christian tradition it includes making this world a better place

Although we are getting ready for Christmas, what is more on my mind is an anniversary that will come three weeks from now, the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake

For me this memory will always be tied to the death of my mother. I left Haiti for Connecticut right after Christmas that year, to join my family in taking the best care of my mother that we could while she was dying of cancer, and to be able to spend time with her before she was gone forever, especially since my priesthood has kept me far from home for the past 35 years

During those precious days, on January 12 we watched with disbelief and with horror the news of the earthquake on television. I was shaken by the tragedy in Haiti, and torn as to what to do because to return to Haiti would be to sacrifice the chance to be with my mother, to help her, hold her, hear her last works and advice, for this very last time on earth.

I remember her words clearly, when taking her eyes off the television she looked at me and said, “Rick, you have to go back to Haiti right away, your help will be lifesaving.”

We spoke into the late hours, and I delayed leaving home for as long as I could, but  at midnight I had to head to New York, to catch the first flight to the Dominican Republic, to travel by land to Port au Prince. As I closed the kitchen door behind me that night, it felt like the heaviest door on earth.

The Prophet Isaiah said “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings news of peace, who announces good things, who announces salvation. (Isaiah 52:7)

Arriving in Haiti the next days, it was immensely evident that the backdrop to all the chaos and sorrow was heroism

How beautiful upon the mountains the torn feet of wounded mothers as they carried their wounded children to our doors for help

How beautiful up the mountains the feet of the strangers who dug through rubble with their bare  and bloody hands, desperate to open a pathway wherever they heard the weak cries of someone buried alive, and who then brought them to our doors, using sheets, broken boards and their backs to carry them

How beautiful upon the mountains the single foot of so many survivors who, in order to live, had to sacrifice parts of their bodies.  How beautiful their courage and determination, their love of life

How beautiful upon the mountains the feet of the thousands and thousands of homeless, sleeping on streets, medians and in public parks, singing thunderous songs into the night, songs of lament and supplication

How beautiful the feet!

Why were feet of the messenger the focus of Isaiah’s praise?

It’s because in ancient times, the only way to receive news, was by someone personally bringing it on foot.  The word came through a person. It was close and personal. The bearer of the word suffered to do so, and took personal sacrifices and risks.

The massive help required in the face of the earthquake needed to be close and personal, good words in action, at great sacrifice and risk

And so I continue:

How beautiful upon the mountains the feet of the courageous and generous St Luke and NPH teams, who in spite of their own losses and sorrows, sped to the rescue without hesitation or delay

How beautiful upon the mountains their feet as they set up rescue camps for vulnerable children, maternity programs, and shared food and drink, clothes and blankets with thousands in steady supply

How beautiful upon the mountains the feet of our teams who buried the dead in seemingly infinite numbers, praying over them the Hail Mary and the Mourners Kaddish

How beautiful upon the mountains the weary feet of our medical teams, enlarging the hospital by using tents, gardens and sidewalks, to care for the endless stream of the wounded coming through our gates

How beautiful upon the mountains those who left their homes in Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, and so many countries to tend to the wounded, bind their wounds, perform their surgeries, and deliver their babies. They slept on crowded roofs when they slept at all, they gave their skills and their love to a suffering nation

(Having said all these blessing, the awful parts were really awful, as you can imagine.)

Finally, how blessed on the mountains the two beautiful feet of our twin missions, NPH and St Luke, the second born from the fruit of the first, and grounded in the spirit of the St Paul of the Cross, two large feet leaving impressive tracks of goodness, complementary to each other and interchanging, together building solid institutions, and ever committed to impressive front line engagement and long standing community based commitment, in a relentless effort to relieve human suffering

From these two missions were born these fruits since the earthquake:

The Angels of Light home and school, for child victims of the earthquake, and other vulnerable children.

The high-risk maternity and neonatology programs at St Damien Hospital

St Luke Hospital, St Mary Hospital, and Manitane pre natal clinic and women’s health center

The cholera units at St Damien, St Luke and St Mary hospitals

The enormous high school, the Academy for Peace and Justice

The Sr Joan Margaret School for the blind and deaf

The rehabilitation and physical therapy programs at St Germain and Kay Eliane

Community development and the building of 150 houses for the poor

The repair of St Luke elementary schools and the addition of 3 new ones for a total of 30 schools

The Vocation and professional school, Our Lady of Guadeloupe

The expansion and improvement of Francisville Production Center

The creation of the Villa Francesca Guest center

The enlargement of the programs for teens and young adults, expansion

of the University program including international studies, expanded high school programs and special programs for troubled youth

The planting of fields and harvesting of mangos, bananas, moringa, and other crops and fruits

The high intensity cultivation of  tilapa, the raising of chickens (broilers and laying hens), the raising of rabbits

The roasting of native coffee and preferential employment of people with earthquake related disabilities to work in the agricultural program

The team that cares for the mentally ill on the streets and in the State asylum

The disaster teams that bring relief in flooding and hurricanes, fires and other disasters, and continue to bury 6000 destitute dead a year

All of these works, in addition to what we were doing before the earthquake, continue in vigor, and provide 1600 jobs, everyone one of which is aimed at caring for the vulnerable or marginalized

So you see, the famous question about Haiti, “Where did all the money go?”

doesn’t apply to us. It was received, used well, is giving good fruit, and you can come and visit and see for yourself any time. We would be very glad for our visit

Our feet are rooted and anchored, on the ground for many decades, fully committed in their pace and stride, and don’t step back come hell or high water

Our feet carry the daily load of arduous work, we bear the heat and dust of the day, our work is person to person, our faith and hope are shared, as are our dangers, our sorrows and our joys. We accept the hard work gladly, our jobs are not desk jobs. We do not give up, because love never fails

I started this letter talking about the seven prayers for humanity. It’s time now for the fourth prayer. I think you agree that prayers for humanity during these golden nights have never been more important

I have noticed in life that often the very best of us comes out when very worst is happening

Let’s stick together and not lose this great momentum. There is still plenty of “worst” out there

You can’t beat the cause. It’s us. The human family,

Merry Christmas and blessings in the new year!

Fr Rick Frechette CP

December 20, 2014

Port au Prince

2014 Christmas Letter from Fr. Rick

Only two weeks ago, on a cold and wet night,
at this time of the year when the darkness of solstice heralds the birth of the Savior,
a mother with nowhere to go, hovered timidly near our gate.

The night was pregnant with both danger and destiny, as was the night when Jesus was born. We ourselves were as unaware of what was happening, as was the world of 2000 years ago.

In the darkness and quiet of night, God shapes the life of a new day, and God’s instruments are dreams, inspirations, intuitions, deep rest, silent growth as we sleep.

In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat, when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. (Ps 127:2)

But the shadows of night can also torment the weak and innocent, and lead one down dark paths of despair and destruction. The young mother at our gate was confused, weak and innocent, and in danger. She was only a teenager. Her pregnancy was a scandal. She didn’t know where to go. There was no room for her at any Inn.

Her story was, once again, the story of Mary, lived out so many times throughout history.

It wasn’t a jealous king that didn’t want her child to live: it was her father and her boyfriend. It wasn’t by the teeth of the dragon of Revelations, nor the sword that brutalized the holy innocents, that her child was to die, but by the instruments of abortion.

This is what was ordered for her by the men in her life, and this is what she fearfully promised to do.

It is also why she hid from them for these last few months, until she quietly had her baby.

She could not end the life of her child. She was sure she could find a way for her child to live. Now the baby was born, but found no welcome in the world. For this woman to reclaim her own place in the world, it must be without her little girl.

She hovered by our gate, as the mother of Moses had hovered over the basket holding her son, in the river.

She watched for who and how and when her baby might be saved, as Moses mother had kept her eyes downstream, on the daughter of the king, bathing in the river. She chose carefully the moment when to release the basket, letting the river carry Moses to new life.

It was different for the mother at our gate. Her choices were poor, with grave error in her calculations.

She had not considered the time between her leaving the tiny child in the brush, and us finding the child at sunrise.

She had not considered that the cold and the rain would drain all the heat from her baby. She had not considered the ants. The fire ants. The terrible fire ants.

And so the sunrise brought not the joy and promise of new life wrought by God during the night, but rather agony and death.

As Moses mother had later offered herself to the king’s court as a wet nurse for her own son, so this young mother returned later in the morning to discretely take news of her baby.

The news was terrible. The child was dead. There was lamenting and wailing in the street.

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matt 2:18)

This story tormented me for days. I was a witness to the short life and sufferings of this baby, whose life we tried impossibly to save.

I am sure this story torments you. Our sadness would be multiplied if we knew how often this happens, if we knew how tough the world still is for young women of poverty and their children.

The birth of Christ is not a story oblivious to suffering and danger. Christ was born into this suffering, as light in the midst of suffering. At first His light was a tiny infant light, which God augmented and multiplied by a dancing star and legions of angels.

In time, his light would grow, as He grew in wisdom and grace. The darkness also grew darker, and the cold grew colder, but his light would become deep and invincible.

Let us thank God together that this is the heritage given us by the Christ Child. We are the bearers of light, holding high the bright lights of faith, of hope, of love.

This is our heritage, that by each of us offering our light, we have made the darkness of night as luminous as the milky way.

And even more, when we ask God to bless the light we all hold up together, God augments and multiplies our light, until even the darkness is radiant.

“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you, and the darkness is radiant in your sight.” Ps 139:12

Let’s thank God together that for 60 years, we at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos have build homes with this marvelous light, that we have been a beacon of hope for children in sorrow, distress and illness, and a safe haven for countless children over these decades, and their way to a stronger and happier future. Our homes are as needed today as they ever have been in our history.

But let’s also not let our guard down. While the vast majority of the children who come to us for help do not suffer tragedy at our very gate, as did the baby girl of whom I write, the forces of darkness and destruction are not at all far from the doors of our homes.

With prayers for struggling mothers and anguished children all around the world at Christmas, let us hold our lights high and together, as one light, begging for and counting on God’s blessing, as we always have.

Thank you for being light for the children of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and every blessing in the new year of grace, 2015.

Fr Rick Frechette CP
Port au Prince
December 2014

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A Letter from Fr. Rick on the 3rd Anniversary of the Earthquake in Haiti

Dear Friends,

On this vigil of the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti of 2010, the heaviness and the pain of those fateful days are very much with us.

It seems in general in life, as we get further away in time from a tragedy, even if the memory becomes a little more bearable with every passing year, the pain seems even sharper. Probably because we are increasingly freer of the shock more able to face the meaning of what happened.

A recent visitor to our mission told me over coffee, that when she was a child and saw a terrible tragedy on television, she went to her mother very distressed. Her mother gave her a beautiful and wise advice. She said, when something terrible happens, try to count the helpers. You never can. It is overwhelming how many people, in compassion, want to do whatever they can.

We have been marking these days prayerfully, with three days of morning and evening prayers for the dead. Tomorrow, on the anniversary, the few hundred children who are orphans from the earthquake and living in our home will process with flowers to our hospital chapel, to lay the flowers at the graves of the Sisters who died in the earthquake and are buried at our chapel. We will then celebrate mass together.

We will then join Archbishop Poulard at what used to be our cathedral for a mass of remembrance and also thanksgiving.

In the early afternoon we will go to the site of our fallen hospital, for prayers and to lay two wreaths there, one for Ryan Kloos and one for Molly Hightower, the two young, vibrant and generous volunteers of our mission who died there when our hospital fell. Attached are front and back views of the monument we built to their memory and to the memory of the few hundred thousand people that died that day. The back of the monument is a simple flame, in ceramic, the flame of eternal memory. 

Late afternoon, as the sun sets, and by candle light, we will offer mass at the site of the common graves of those whole died.

Finally in the evening, following the wise advice mentioned a minute ago, with a sure and clear eye on the multitudes of amazing people who raced to our aid, we will offer a mass of thanksgiving and hope.

On Sunday morning, mass with the children at our orphanage in the mountains, with all the same intentions.

Our deepest sympathy to the families of our volunteers, friends, employees and young graduates of our homes, whose lives changed on that day, as St Paul says, “in the twinkling of an eye”. Those who died are now sons and daughters of light and of glory, and we beg their prayers, and to share in their light.

Our deepest thanks to all who have helped us carry the burden of healing and rebuilding for these three years, who have helped us bind wounds and heal the brokenhearted, shelter the orphan and the homeless, and who have helped us strive for new years of favor. You have been instruments of abundant life, light and hope. With gratitude, and wishing you God’s blessing,

Fr Rick Frechette CP
Port au Prince
January 11, 2013