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Mission Outreach
Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in Haiti

If you wish to read more news about Haiti from Fr. Rick
go to his website: www.compassionweavers.com.
The Westborough News, July 31, 2009

Investing in Hope in Haiti

Westhborough Youth Minister keeps link with Haitian orphanage alive


By Scott O’Connell
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 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 Fr. Rick

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