In his latest news report from Haiti, following the assassination of the president, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, then followed by a direct hit from tropical storm Grace, Fr. Hugo Esparza begins with a piece titled Grace and Bleakness. In the story he addresses those who have said to him that "these tragedies, which give no break to the Haitian people, are because these beautiful and people have been consecrated to Satan." But no, he says!
"The life of the disciple is to plant the Kingdom, fields of justice, truth, compassion, etc. More so, we are called to sustain the grace of redemption as we face the bleakness of our sin and the power of our accuser, Satan, fully displayed before us in the fruit of the weeds of corruption, the mendacity in Haitian Politics; neo-colonization, the not-too-invisible-hand of first world powers, interventionism; the arms industry, that makes a few millions of dollars by arming our thugs and police, at the same time; and hunger, sustained by intermediaries who raise the price of the basic food the poor can afford."
We are pleased that Fr. Hugo was recently joined by Father Julián Díez González, CP (Sacred Hearth Province). Fr. Julián is from Infinillas, Northern Spain and has been a missionary in the lands of Central America for two decades: in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Chile. With permission of his Provincial he has come to accompany and reinforce our Mission in Haiti.
Read Fr. Hugo's latest newsletter here
Please keep the work of the Passionists in Haiti in your prayers, and if you can, make a donation to their work through the website setup by Fr. Hugo Esparza CP. (it also includes Hugo's great podcast, Ask A Haitian | Ask a Foreigner) It is here: https://spphaiti.com/
Political and health conditions in Haiti continue to fall apart and degrade. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and ongoing constitutional crisis will only cause further suffering, violence and bloodshed for the people. The PSN invites you to join us by signing this petition to urge President Biden to immediately send doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti. Addressing the current crisis in Haiti requires stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Plus, the hopeful and faithful work of the Passionists through the work of St. Like Foundation Hospital, including Fr. Rick Frechette and Fr. Hugo Esparza is stretched beyond breaking. The hospitals are running out oxygen for the large spike in COVID patients and if they find it the cost is excessive. Please keep this work in your prayers and if you can, make a donation to their work through the website setup by Fr. Hugo. It is here: https://spphaiti.com/
Also Fr. Hugo has created a podcast series to tell the story of their work, intended to be educational, informative and current. The purpose is to talk about everyday Haitian life as well as "hopes and doubts." The series, Ask a Haitian Ask a Foreigner features Fr. Hugo as the foreigner and Sarah Exantus is the Haitian. The conversation is sharp and delightful, addressing questions such as "What is a quality in Haitian life that most expresses the Haitian 'heart?'" or, "What do you think about Christian missioners who come to Haiti?" There are six short episode so far in the series.
Listen to the podcasts on Fr. Hugo's YouTube Channel here.
"We commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the earthquake that killed 250,000 people and displaced from 1.5 to 3 million people on the 12th of January. We, however, still feel the aftershocks of the disaster....
Life is fragile in Haiti, no doubt. The desperation can make you bend toward ruthlessness like exploiting the weak or it can make you bend towards solidarity and kindness. I want to make sure that my heart, and I pray that yours, bends towards the side of Christ..." .
Read Fr. Hugo's reflection here
In the midst of harsh unemployment, political gridlock, unprecedented violence in the streets of Haiti, we started a volunteering pilot program, following the model of the PVI (Passionist Volunteer International). We are calling this program Konbit Pierre Toussaint. Pierre Toussaint, a former slave of Haitian descent, is now a blessed in the church recognized for his generosity. Under his intersession we have invited 7 young adults who serve as alphabetization (writing and reading) teachers for the adults in the community. We have two of them volunteering at a local orphanage for children with severe mental and physical challenges. Our goal was to have our youth in the Konbit Pierre Toussaint inspire others through their service. So far, we can say for sure, that after 3 month of the program, our volunteers that are being inspired. They are realizing they can make a difference in the life of others. Read Hugo's full report here.
As part of the Passionist Solidarity Network support for projects affiliated with the two U.S. Provinces, a new pilot program in Haiti designed by Fr. Hugo Esparza CP has been funded with a $5000 grant.
The grassroots initiative called Konbit Pierre Toussaint, is a program that will enable young Haitians to serve their community and to receive human, religious and professional formation. Fr. Hugo says the project is "inspired by the Passionist Volunteer programs in the USA to create the same opportunity for young Haitians. We started our pilot program with seven young men and women. All of them are formers volunteers at our Kids-Youth Program called Little Stones. All seven of them will volunteer for 10 months part time"
The Project is aptly named for the now Venerable Toussaint who was born in Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave. Pierre died a free man and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics. In New York, plantation owner Pierre Bérard made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. It is fitting that Fr. Esparza's project in Haiti will work with young men and women as "alphabetization agents" who are aiding adults that need to learn or improve their capacity in reading and writing. Konbit is a Creole word that reflects rural life in Haiti. A Konbit is a coming together of friends and family members to work in each other’s garden or farms.
Watch this video of Fr. Hugo report on his work in Haiti during the 2019 Holy Cross Provincial Chapter.