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The feast of St Marcellin in Dame Marie

09/06/2018: Haiti

Marist Brothers from Canada arrived in Haiti in 1985 to look after a primary and secondary school in the city of Dame Marie. Thirty-three years of collaborating in the formation of citizens in this island of the Antilles have passed. Haiti is known as the Pearl of the Antilles. In fact, the word Ayiti in Arawak, the language of the native inhabitants of the island, means “Land of Mountains”. Currently, there is another secondary school in a rural area called Latiboliere. Our three schools have a total of 1,100 students, looked after by four Haitian brothers, six Mexicans and many lay teachers.

In Dame Marie, Saint Marcellin’s Day was celebrated with three significant activities, and of those three the most significant was Mass. It was celebrated by Father Dimitri, a former Marist student of Latiboliere. In his homily, he showed great knowledge of Saint Marcellin and the Institute’s work. The choir was formed by students from our primary school, Nuestra Señora de Fatima, and our secondary school, Nuestra Señora de la Nativité. Their songs gave the Mass a deeper sense of spirituality. Something very typical of Haiti was a type of dance that the students performed while the choir sang the Magnificat, after the Holy Communion. Apart from our students, there were students representing several of the city’s schools in the Mass. Our social insertion in this city is a fact worth mentioning.

This was an appropriate day to artistically express the Haitian culture and therefore we did so. In each of our schools, our students demonstrated their talents in singing, dancing and in publicly expressing themselves. The desire to participate was so great, that it was difficult for us to choose among the many who wanted to participate. The family spirit is characteristic of everything that is genuinely Marist. In Dame Marie, this family spirit was expressed by the students eating together in their respective halls. The young people themselves prepared their food and decorated their halls with Marist themes. We, brothers, also shared our food with all our collaborators.

Haiti is a somewhat isolated country.It is isolated not only geographically but culturally, socially, politically, economically and religiously. Despite of the abandonment of the Western Church during several centuries, its population is deeply religious and Catholic. Haiti is a place where much needs to be done to realise Marcellin’s dream. If someone does not know where to go to live out the Institute’s theme of ‘A new beginning’, they can come to Haiti. Here they will find they can contribute greatly in order to make it a reality.

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Br José Contreras Landeros
Province of México Occidental

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