One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Fall/Winter 2020 Issue
CULTURAL FAMILY ARTICLE: PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS, REFUGEES, & TRAVELERS
Blessing in Disguise
By: Msgr. Pierre André Pierre, Emeritus President of University Notre-Dame of Haiti (UNDH) Assistant to Bishop Guy Sansaricq at the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, Brooklyn, NY
The Journeying Together was outstanding for the 60 plus young Haitian Catholics who rallied for a two-hour zoom meeting, from cities across the US on September 19, 2020.
They eagerly shared in their faith and hope, as well as their concerns about their commitment within the Catholic Church. Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Culture Diversity, opened the gathering with inspiring prayer and attended a great part of it. Sr. Joanna Okereke, HHCJ, Assistant Director, Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees & Travelers and Rev. Jean Yvon Pierre, Ph.D., Pastor of St Jerome Church in Brooklyn, organizer, and facilitator of the event, were grateful to God for the youth enthusiastic participation.
The theme of the call was centered on Jesus and hope. I was invited to say a few initial words in connection with the youth, prayer, education, commitment, and leadership. Three fundamental points were identified:
- A look at the Universal Church and Pope Francis’ is calling the youth to come to Jesus, to experience his love and to always keep hope;
- Empowerment by the teaching of the local church and parish communities;
- Awareness of their original roots and background, to assume the responsibility of growing up together as members of a diverse family which is the church in America.
The zoom meeting offered an opportunity for the young adult Haitian American community to come together at a national level and discuss things in an open and honest forum. This has not been done before. Many shared about the lack of efforts that have been made in the dioceses to welcome Haitians and offer some pastoral ministry to serve them as parishes are frequently ill-equipped to provide for their spiritual care in their own Creole language and their original cultural background.
The meeting ended with a discussion about the need for organizations such as the NCHA and USCCB’s Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees & Travelers to provide spiritual and pastoral care to immigrants. We hope to continue to journey together and becoming one family.
The National Center of the Haitian Apostolate (NCHA) was founded in late 1970’s by Haitian Priests ministering in the US. It was officially affiliated to the Office of the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference in October 1988. It became incorporated in Albany, NY, as a not-for-profit organization. From the very beginning, the commitment of now retired Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq to the Haitian Apostolate, as a founding member, has been steadfast till present day.
An estimated over 1,500,000 Haitians live in the US. They can be found in every State. Among them, most are Catholics or have catholic connection. Haitians are one of the largest group of black Catholic immigrants. A greater concentration of Haitians is located on the East Coast between Florida and Massachusetts. Many of them live in main cities.