Helping Haitians Help Haitians

Bishop Michael R. Cote visits Haiti

Bishop Cote visited Haiti from January 30 through February 2, 2017, and made full use of his time while there.


Arriving Monday afternoon, he met over dinner with Bishop Joseph Lafontant, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Port-au-Prince.  Bishop Lafontant was involved with Outreach and the Diocese of Norwich going back to the beginning in 1985, when the delegation with Bishop Reilly took the mission trip to Haiti that started the ministry.



Tuesday morning Bishop Cote traveled from the Mission House in Petion-Ville to the clinic and offices in Christ Roi, to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with the staff of Outreach to Haiti, the neighbors, clinic patients, and students in the education program.  Over 100 people attended.  The mass was concelebrated by Fr Frank Rouleau, Chaplain of the Outreach Mission House, and Fr Rouge, pastor of the Christ Roi Parish.  The choir from Christ Roi parish provided the core of moving and joyous music throughout the mass.


At the conclusion of the mass, Bishop Cote observed that one of the songs selected, which spoke of all that the Father has blessed us with, was one of the songs used when he celebrated mass with the Haitian community in Norwich a week after the earthquake in 2010.  It left an indelible impression on him that these people, who still did not know if family and friends back in Haiti were alive, were singing of the blessings of God. 


 For a pdf of the mass program (in French), click here.





The groundbreaking for the new Norwich Outreach Center occurred right after mass. 


After a welcome to the guests, Bishop Cote consecrated the ground, and prayed in part, that the building "will be a center in which Jesus Christ will be the cornerstone giving strength and life to the faith of Your people, a center from which His teachings and love will reach forth into this community and beyond to embrace the people of Haiti."



For the full Blessing, click here.

The initial breaking of the ground was done by Milor Luxama, who is on the Outreach staff in Haiti.  Milor used a pick-axe with which he was very familiar.  After the earthquake, Milor and his cousin worked for 11 straight hours, using only a pick-axe, to break through collapsed concrete of the mission house to free two people trapped in the rubble.  That pick-axe has been on the wall at the (rented) mission house since. It was taken down to symbolically complete the circle at the ground-breaking, from the destruction of the earthquake to the genesis of a  new era for Outreach and the neighborhood with the construction of the new clinic and mission house.

Bishop Cote completed the ceremony with the placement of mortar and stone in the hole dug by Milor, representing the foundation of the new building. 






Bishop Cote toured the Haitian National Museum MUPANAH, which provided many insights into the social and political struggles through the history of Haiti, before having lunch with Auxiliary Bishop Eric Toussaint of Port-au-Prince.



After lunch, Bishop Cote visited Father Anicette at Notre Dame de Lourdes - Citi Militaire, a parish that is twinned with St Mark's in Westbrook, CT.  Fr Anicette showed us the church - sanctuary pictured below.  Fr Anicette proudly showed us the altar in the church which has a plaque on the front with St Mark and Our Lady of Lourdes side by side, honoring the twinning of the two parishes.



The day concluded with dinner with Operations Director Joel Jean-Louis and his wife, Mathline, as well as Clinic Director Dr. Nadine Jacquet and her husband. 



Bishop Cote started the day with 6:30 mass for the sisters  at the Missionaries of Charity facility. After mass, he toured the Mother Theresa Nutrition Program, which serves children from infants to teens.  This is a favorite, yet heart-wrenching stop for most immersion trips that Outreach leads in Haiti.

 Archbishop Guire Poullard

The next stop was at the chancellary of Port-au-Prince for a visit with Archbishop Guillard.  As with other visits, Bishop Cote's fluency in French was a blessing as the two prelates discussed the twinning between the Diocese of Norwich and the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. The Chancellary is right next to the National Cathedral ruins.  The Cathedral was destroyed in the earthquake of 2010.  While the surrounding rubble has all been cleared up, the walls that remained standing have not been demolished.  It has not yet been decided what to do with the Cathedral; the Haitian government has requested that the ruins be left as a monument to those who died in the earthquake. 



Foyer des Filles de Dieu  (Paula's Orphanage)

The last stop of the day was at Paula's Orphanage.  The orphanage is twinned with Mercy High School in Middletown, CT.  After some initial shyness by the girls at the orphanage, the ice was broken and they showed great joy, posing for pictures and singing songs with great animation. The mood was infectious, and the bishop and all the visitors had a very uplifting visit.  





The day was capped off with a dinner of Soup Joumou - Pumpkin Soup.  This is a Haitian Independence Day (January 1) tradition, and another wonderful experience, as well as a chance to understand a little more of Haiti's history and culture, before heading back to Norwich the next day. 






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