The parishes in Haiti extend over a huge area. The parish consists of a main church and several chapels. Each chapel could be 1 to 3 hours walking distance from the main church. The pastor is responsible for the liturgical and sacramental life of the main church as well as the chapels. Mass is celebrated daily in the Church. On Sundays after celebrating Mass in the church the pastor takes turns going to the outlying chapels to celebrate Mass.
Each chapel has a director who is responsible for the Sunday Liturgy of the Word when Mass is not available. In addition, the director and team are responsible for funerals, sacrament preparation and pastoral care of the members of the chapel.
The aim of the Faith and Worship Committee is to support the faith and sacramental life of the parishioners in our sister parish in Haiti. At the parish we listen to their particular requests that will help them live out their deep Catholic spirituality. Then we work together with them to help provide the training and other needs they have expressed.
The main areas of support are:
The Liturgy is very important in the faith of the Haitian community. Sunday Mass is a highlight in their week. People walk long distances to attend Mass with the community. Their faith is expressed in the enthusiastic full voice with which they sing the hymns and speak the responses. They listen attentively to the readings and the messages in the homily. With deep faith they approach the Eucharist table.
To enhance the worship experience, we have been able to provide:
- Week long on-site trainings for the choirs
- Musical instruments and some training
- Robes for the choir
- Vestments for the priest
- Liturgical vessels such as chalice, paten, bells, processional cross, etc.
- Week long on-site training for the chapel directors in preparing the Sunday Liturgy when the pastor is not available for Mass
- Additional on-site training sessions for:
- Chapel directors in preparing funerals and marriage preparation
- Catechist in preparing youth for First Communion and Confirmation
- Fraternity Leaders in Bible Study to prepare for the weekly Bible reflection and outreach meetings.
Sacrament of Marriage Program
Marriage is Haiti is not a common occurrence because of the cost associated with a wedding. A request for financial assistance to help cover the costs of marriage license, rings, and a simple reception was proposed so that couples would be able to receive the sacrament of marriage.
Within this plan all couples would:
- Prepare for the Sacrament of Matrimony – attending 3 months of weekly sessions to understand more fully the sacrament of marriage and the ways to live out the daily reality
- Participate in a joint wedding ceremony during which each couple would exchange their vows individually and the bride would receive a gold ring symbolic of their unity and permanent commitment
- All join in a proper reception for the couples and their families following the ceremony
- This program has been a huge success for the couples and their children, as has been expressed by the over 80 couples who have shared with us their gratitude for the things they have learned in the training.
An added dimension of this program has been the pray full connection with our own St. Margaret Mary parishioners, especially the Marriage Ministry couples, who send congratulatory greetings to the newly married couples. They have set up a prayerful relationship where our couples continue to pray for the couples and the couples in Haiti will pray for our couples.
Loan Bank Program
To make the marriage program financially sustainable the parishioners suggested establishing a loan program. The interest earned from the loans will accumulate to fund the costs of the marriage program for years to come. To date there has been a 100% repayment of the loans and the interest.