Haiti Visit: Joyful Mass Among the Ruins

Haiti Mass

Parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish celebrate Sunday Liturgy amongst the rubble of their church. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Msgr. Padraic Loftus, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, joined a delegation of four priests, one deacon, and two CRS staff members in a trip to Haiti as part of the Global Fellows program. They went to witness the work of CRS with the intent to share the Haiti story with Catholic communities in the U.S. Msgr. Loftus filed this report.

The day starts early in Haiti and on Sunday it starts earlier. Our Mass at Sacred Heart Parish scheduled for 6:30 AM actually began at 6:40. The pastor, Fr. Hans, took some time to rehearse the music with his people.

The setting was unique – a large tent for the congregation and a smaller one for the sanctuary with enough space for a delightful variety of flowers and plants. Fr. Neil and I concelebrated with the new associate priest who had just arrived at the parish. Deacon Bill assisted the pastor. The tent stood on a gravel floor on the grounds of the now demolished church. I was amazed how some of the ladies negotiated the floor with dignity and carefully chosen steps. Both men and women, young and old, were dressed immaculately, so different to what I often observe back in California! I was happy to note that the servers were both male and female. The congregation filled the confines of the tent with standing room only.

The liturgy was celebrated with solemn and yet joyful dignity. Fr. Hans has a pleasant sense of humor, so much so that I wondered if there was some Irish hidden away somewhere in his genes! He obviously loves to sing, enhancing the liturgy from beginning to end. His humor enlivened his homily which I noticed was not short, yet listened to with careful attention. The people were riveted on him as he spoke. Both during the liturgy and afterwards I could see clearly that his people loved him. What a gift!

I could see that this was very definitely the kind of liturgy the Vatican Council called for. The participation of the people was visibly full, active and conscious. As far as I could see, everyone joined in the singing and there was abundance of it.
I will bring the memory of this Mass with me from this trip to Haiti to relive its joy and spirit of hospitality as I recount it for my friends and congregation. I thank God for the gift of this day and he gift of the Church in Haiti

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