I copied the message below from something my affiliate friend Beth Begley sent out from Pax Christi. It's short.
Most of you know that I have a very special feeling for the people of Syria, and especially the city of Aleppo, which I visited in 2008. The recent news photo of the little Syrian boy, 5 years old, bloodied and shell shocked, speaks volumes about the incredible suffering of the people there.
Pray with Pope Francis for Peace in Syria (shared by our partners from Catholic Relief Services)
In July, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, said, “We need a worldwide movement towards peace in Syria." On October 31, 2016, please join Pope Francis in prayer. Pope Francis will be saying a prayer for Peace in Syria at 3 p.m. in Sweden. Caritas International is inviting people of faith around the world to pray at that time (9 a.m. EDT) or at 3 p.m. local time—or any time that works.
Often it seems as if there is little we can do in response to crises such as these on an individual level, yet there is something very powerful about joining together in prayer for special purpose. That's why I ask you to join me in a prayer for Syria on Monday.
A note to all of us from Renate just before she returned to Haiti.
I am leaving for Haiti tomorrow, but did not want to leave without letting you know how deeply I have been moved by the Affiliates response nationwide. I am so proud to be part of that community. Please let all the Affiliates know that I am deeply grateful and will share their generous contributions with my people in Jeremie.
I will be sending periodic updates.
Renate Schneider, MA Psych, MA Pastoral Studies, R EEG T, R PSG T President Haitian Connection Vice Rectrice University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse www.HaitianConnection.org http://www.universitynouvellegrandanse.org Do I dare to disturb the universe? T.S. Elliot
[We received this letter from Renate a few days after the Category 4 hurricane made a direct hit on Jérémie, Haiti. It is a remarkable (sad, enlightening, important, beautiful testimony to the Haitian people) letter from a wonderful woman. We weren't able to include all the photos from the original letter. However, as you might guess, all of them show destruction and almost unimaginable devastation. To read the full letter, click on READ MORE. You can also find the full letter on our website: Go to Maryknollaffiliates.org - click on the NEWS tab - click on Recent Postings]
Dear Friends and Supporters of Haitian Connection,
October 4, 2016 a devastating hurricane of enormous force, winds and torrential rains hit Jérémie and the greater Grand’Anse region. Nothing like this has ever occurred here before, the last hurricane was seen in 1954. Close to 90% of the smaller houses with tin roofs have been completely destroyed.
Nobody escaped the devastation. Most people have lost everything, clothes, photographs, and what is more important birth certificates and other important documents. In other words, almost everybody starts at zero.Of course all lines of communication are inoperable, no electricity, no phone contact, no internet. So there is no way to find out if people are ok, or to let loved ones know nobody is hurt. Elections were to take place October 9, this coming Sunday, but the government already declared that elections will not take place. Another delay in a series of delays. Can Haiti ever move forward?
As far as the work of Haitian Connection, it remains to be seen what can be salvaged. We are fairly sure that the houses we built so far could not withstand this hurricane. But there is no way to find out until the roads are passable. So far neither motorcycles nor cars are able to pass, since the roads are blocked by fallen trees. Newsflash just in: 3 houses we just finished building in a new community have withstood the hurricane and they provided shelter during the storm for a number of people. Thank God for small -- or rather -- large miracles. We have not been able to get out to the university campus, but have heard reports that the whole campus is under water from the swollen river nearby. The tin roofs of the classrooms are gone, swept up by the winds. For those of you who have come as volunteer professors to UNOGA, you need to know that the guest house is no longer. The old structure could not withstand the gale force winds. The 2nd floor simply collapsed onto the first floor, 15 minutes after Reginald got the two remaining professors out. We will need to close the university until January.
Part 1: What Happened – Descriptive View
The Southern Regional Affiliate Conference was held just outside of New Orleans in Metairie – September 30th – October 2nd.The Conference opened with a moving prayer and possession highlighting the four Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Action and Global Vision. For the remaining time, the diverse modes of presentation that followed spoke to the theme - Mission of Accompaniment: Walking Each Other Back Home.
On Friday evening, the keynote, given by the always-dynamic Matt Rousso, employed Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium to develop the theme.He also regularly incorporated the wisdom from the group present to help concretely situate the theme of accompaniment in our own life experiences.Saturday morning opened up with an early morning Prayer Walk at the Lake (along the levy of Lake Ponchartrain adjoining the retreat ground where we were staying) followed by breakfast.Following breakfast, Jason and Felicia Gehrig, a former Maryknoll lay missioner couple who spent seven years in the Bolivian altiplano related their mission experience through a series of slides and very touching stories – some exhilarating, some heartbreaking and all somehow hopeful – that confirmed the importance of accompanying others wherever we find ourselves.
That afternoon a panel with Russ Feldmeier MM, Gerry Kelly MM and Bob Short spoke to the Affiliate movement vis-à-vis, respectively: the Maryknoll Society, the Third Wave initiative and the present-day Affiliate movement.The interchange with the participants that followed was especially fecund.Before dinner that evening, Lindsay Doucette of the MKLM gave an expansive overview of her work in recruitment and also talked about how it could connect with Affiliate initiatives.Louisiana gumbo was served for supper and, by all accounts from those natives in the know, was authentic and delicious. The evening featured a New Orleans Fais Do Do (I had to look that up too) and talent show wherein participant adorned with French Quarter beads and holding frilly umbrellas made semi-embarrassing attempts to show off their “dance” skills as they marched around the serving counter. Matt lit up the evening with Cajun Humor (Boudreaux jokes) while members from the North Texas Chapter put on a skit to honor Saint Thérèse of Lisieaux, whose feast was celebrated on the day.The Conference ended on Sunday with announcements, an evaluation and a Eucharistic celebration.
Part II: What Happened – A Deeper Look
Somewhere in his writings, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that the Lord “…wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world…” Just a few minutes into gathering together as Maryknollers – seeing how the New Orleans Chapter welcomed all of us, the global and local issues that consumed us (and the consumer issues that didn’t), the wholehearted laughter that filled us, and, maybe even the simple dress that clothed us – gave some evidence that we too were aspiring towards the new fool in the world classification. The advanced levels of insight, education, creativity and life experience don’t disqualify in this regard.
It was a small group of just 30 participants, but it was clear from the start that we were connected by and committed to the Maryknoll charism of accompanying (at home and cross-cultural settings) those who have little or no voice in our clamorous, disjointed world. In Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, he said this of Francis of Assisi: His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and ever creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. (¶ 11). That rings very true.
Finally, although many of us hadn’t met before, we soon realized that we were at home together. New vocations are not flooding into any of the expressions within Maryknoll these days, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be reversed if new people – young or old – spent the weekend with us. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking. Minimally it couldn’t help but make heads turn and speed up the heartbeat a bit. Of course, for those not from that region of the country, the grits, biscuits and gumbo couldn’t hurt either.