Dear friends and family,
Tomorrow, on January 12, 2020, we will remember the earthquake of ten years past, that devastated Port au Prince, and beyond.
You probably remember the statistics, and I will not repeat them here, as they tend to dampen what they are trying to portray, resembling mathematics much more than matters of the heart.
We know the destruction and loss were of such overwhelming magnitude, that wounds seem to be fresh again with every cycle of years.
Not all of these wounds are internal: sickness with grief, emptiness from loss, shock from horror. Some are still very much physical.
And so is the need to tend to the wounds, once again, even ten years later.
We are observing a triduum of prayers, which started Friday and ends tomorrow night.
The center point of our prayer is given to us by the great prophet, Isaiah.
“Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust, my gracious love will not depart from you, neither will my covenant of peace be shaken,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
Our first prayers have been for the souls that might still be troubled and unable to let go, and go to God. We pray they are all in glory.
Our second prayers have been for those still profoundly wounded, in their bodies and in their hearts. For them, every day is an enormous struggle. We pray for their strength and peace.
Our third prayers are in gratitude for the many rescuers and helpers, in Haiti and from many countries abroad. Many of these also have painful memories of what they lived through and saw, and yet were sources of heroic inspiration as “wounded healers.”
I tried to express this in a video message, at the request of Fr Enzo, that has this link:
Our final prayers are for ourselves and also for anyone reading this: for a better future in each of our countries, and in our world trembling and shaking from many tensions and tragedies.
Catholic tradition teaches very practically and in a very enlightened way on the meaning of the healing of memories.
Healing of memories is the first purpose for remembering any anniversary of devastation.
The teaching, as expressed very clearly by saints and mystics such as St John of the Cross,
is that the healer of memories is hope.
It sounds a bit esoteric, but it means that healing has flowed like poured fragrant oils from the solidarity and acts of heroism, evident constantly and even over these ten years, but first in the Haitian people.
Our own staffs worked tirelessly, under warlike conditions, to help those brought to our hospital from under the fallen rubble. These remarkable and dedicated people were bearing their own wounds and losses, and returning to their destroyed homes, neighborhoods, or makeshift tent cities after long, grueling, and heartbreaking shifts.
Friends from around the world left the comforts of home, witnessed many horrors, and worked night and day to bring comfort and to save lives.
The wounded themselves, of body or heart, struggled to get up again from the rubble, to walk again, to face a new day having lost those whom their hearts will always cherish and mourn.
Hope was the furnace that blazed forth all of this courage.
It is this hope that brings us healing.
With God’s help, let’s keep stoking its fires, here in Haiti, and all around the world.
God knows there is still plenty of work for us all to do.
Thank you for remembering the Haitian people today.
Fr Rick Frechette CP, DO
Port au Prince
January 11, 2020