Westborough News, July 31, 2009
Investing in Hope in
keeps link with Haitian orphanage alive
NEWS STAFF WRITER
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
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
‘The kids are very respectful,” she said. “Sometimes you wish the kids
here (in America) were that respectful. They know what the expectations
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.
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
hospital has been built to serve the poorest children in the Western
Each Christmas and Easter St
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
Luke’s with a memo marked "Haiti".
Thank you for your support over the years.
Father Rick Frechette, CP, National Director, NPH Haiti
For the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I
commissioned a painting based on
1 Corinthians 15:52:
a moment, in the twinkling of an
eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will
raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
painting is beautifully done by
Donna-Marie Hayes, and was digitally printed onto six banners 10 feet
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
where the dead are buried.
The banner will serve as a call to prayer for each Sunday of 2015, for
children to pray: for those who died, for those who helped during the
in thanksgiving for all the help that has been life saving for these
years and for a brighter future for Haiti and for the world.
Twenty-two of our university students were chosen to make a pilgrimage
for Haiti, half going to St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome and half going
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Unfortunately
not granted for Rome, so all 22 went to Washington on January 1, 2015
Mass will be offered in Washington with the same prayer intentions
above. We will take advantage of their time in Washington to have a
leadership with Dr. Michael Maccoby and they will also meet with Frank
to hear about his experiences with Fr. Wasson, and his and Polly's
supporting the homes. These sessions are to tie the students more to
of NPH and to Fr. Wasson's vision.
On Monday, January 12, 2015 we will have the following schedule:
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.
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.
will have a candle light mass at Titanyin where many of the victims are
buried, at 4:53 p.m.
4:53 p.m. the bell of St. Damien Chapel will toll 50 times, 10 times
for each year since the earthquake.
will have many visitors for the
anniversary and we encourage those who will not join us to remember us
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
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.
painting by Donna-Marie Hayes, Project Haiti Board member. Concept by
Fr. Rick Frechette.
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
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
Scriptures, and together they bind the ages of history with a single
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
although it applies to Mary, and echoes far back into the Bible, is for
praying a way to give God permission to use them in any way helpful to
salvation of the world
The idea of salvation is far
from uniform among the worlds many religions, but for sure in the
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
three weeks from now, the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating
For me this memory will
always be tied to the death of my mother. I left Haiti for Connecticut
after Christmas that year, to join my family in taking the best care of
mother that we could while she was dying of cancer, and to be able to
time with her before she was gone forever, especially since my
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
with my mother, to help her, hold her, hear her last works and advice,
very last time on earth.
I remember her words
clearly, when taking her eyes off the television she looked at me and
“Rick, you have to go back to Haiti right away, your help will be
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
Prince. As I closed the kitchen door behind me that night, it felt like
heaviest door on earth.
The Prophet Isaiah said “How
beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings news of
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
How beautiful upon the
mountains the torn feet of wounded mothers as they carried their
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
brought them to our doors, using sheets, broken boards and their backs
How beautiful upon the
mountains the single foot of so many survivors who, in order to live,
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
streets, medians and in public parks, singing thunderous songs into the
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
foot. The word came
through a person. It
was close and personal. The bearer of the word suffered to do so, and
personal sacrifices and risks.
The massive help required in
the face of the earthquake needed to be close and personal, good words
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
How beautiful upon the
mountains their feet as they set up rescue camps for vulnerable
maternity programs, and shared food and drink, clothes and blankets
thousands in steady supply
How beautiful upon the
mountains the feet of our teams who buried the dead in seemingly
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
tents, gardens and sidewalks, to care for the endless stream of the
coming through our gates
How beautiful upon the
mountains those who left their homes in Italy, Germany, Spain,
France, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium,
so many countries to tend to the wounded, bind their wounds, perform
surgeries, and deliver their babies. They slept on crowded roofs when
slept at all, they gave their skills and their love to a suffering
(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,
second born from the fruit of the first, and grounded in the spirit of
Paul of the Cross, two large feet leaving impressive tracks of
complementary to each other and interchanging, together building solid
institutions, and ever committed to impressive front line engagement
standing community based commitment, in a relentless effort to relieve
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
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
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
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
provide 1600 jobs, everyone one of which is aimed at caring for the
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
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
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
to person, our faith and hope are shared, as are our dangers, our
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
prayer. I think you agree that prayers for humanity during these golden
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
She had not
considered the time between her leaving the tiny child in the brush,
and us finding the child at sunrise.
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
“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)
tormented me for days. I was a witness to the short
life and sufferings of this baby, whose life we tried impossibly to
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
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
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.
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
“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.
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
A Letter from Fr. Rick on the 3rd Anniversary of the
Earthquake in Haiti
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
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.
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