My Visit to Haiti by Fr. Mike Barth, S.T., October 2021
My recent travel to Haiti, postponed by COVID and the recent killing of the President, is a story of struggle and hope. Haiti continues to struggle politically and economically; however, it is strong in the deep faith and hope of its people. Our Missionary Servant brothers there–Fathers Clervil and Guiteau, along with Br. Benoit Pierre on his mission year and candidates Philip and Guy–work tirelessly to aid the people and strengthen their faith through prayer, the Sacraments and social outreach.
While there I visited the school where I witnessed young people, the future, eagerly studying for a better life. In simple wooden, metal roofed classrooms educators teach lessons in French, Haitian Creole, math and reading to those enthusiastic students. A simple meal is offered each day, an important part of their day and one that lifts a burden from their parents. There is a constant struggle for water, and the school is sorely in need of new restrooms and a more permanent school building. Despite it all, the beauty of the children along with their smiles brightened my visit.
The mission has five sectors, or additional mission sites, all only accessible by motorbike. I joined one of these communities for liturgy ne afternoon. In an open, converted tobacco curing structure, local music was sung and prayers sent forth by many, young and old. The devotion displayed was inspiring, the joy at having Mass palatable. Afterward, I blessed some property nearby, donated by a local parish member, with the hope that one day a simple chapel would be built.
While we, through the media, only hear of Haiti’s struggles and problems – all of which are real – there is so much beauty and hope in the faces of these brothers and sisters, united to us in faith and in Christ. I am once again humbled by this visit and proud that the Missionary Servants are present.