Most of us have been blessed with cherished memories of celebrating Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones. While our traditions may vary, sharing love and giving thanks are the foundations which usher in December and the season of gift-giving.
Through the birth of God’s only son, we receive renewed gifts of faith, hope, love, and charity. These virtuous gifts are within each of us and are to be used by us, to help others come to know God’s great love for each of us and to keep us on the road to salvation.
Faith, hope, love, and charity are the gifts we use to face seemingly insurmountable challenges such as helping to feed the hungry, care for the sick and aid the downtrodden throughout the world. More than 38 years ago, Lay Catholics in the Diocese of Norwich along with their shepherd, Bishop Reilly, brought these gifts with them when they visited Haiti, which sits on our country’s doorstep. This visit led to the Diocese of Norwich forming its ministry Outreach to Haiti.
As you may know, Haiti is the poorest and the most densely populated country in the Western Hemisphere. It is a small country that occupies one-third of the Island of Hispaniola, while the Dominican Republic occupies the remaining two-thirds of the island.
Catholicism has been the predominant religion, and most Haitians today are Catholic. Thanks to that first trip in 1981, our Diocese has been walking with our Haitian brothers and sisters, providing care and comfort to some of God’s poorest children. In sharing our love and providing charity to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, we too are receiving gifts. As St. Vincent de Paul teaches, “The love of the poor becomes the medicine of the soul.”
As Haiti again faces challenges of governance and a breakdown in civil society, it is important for us to remember we serve God. In serving God, we may not always see the long-range effects of our work, but we see the small ones such as a child smiling because he is feeling better after being cured of his illness. In that moment, we experience God’s gifts of faith, hope, love, and charity.
Having been to Haiti in June and September, I can promise you our ministry is helping the sick who visit our medical clinic, restoring health to young children and expectant mothers who were severely malnourished, giving vaccinations to adults and children to prevent diseases, and educating young people who will become the future leaders of Haiti. Our Haitian staff is working hard to keep the doors open to help all who knock asking for aid.
Our ministry is a physical reminder to our Haitian brothers and sisters of God’s gifts to all of us – faith, hope, love and charity. Why do we do this? Some say because the need is great. I say it is because God asks us. In the upcoming season of faith, hope, love, and charity, please remember your brothers and sisters in Haiti and know that your gifts make a difference in the lives of Haitian children and their families. More importantly, sharing your gifts will make a difference within you.
There are many worthwhile ministries to help our brothers and sisters here and throughout the world. Your diocesan ministry, Outreach to Haiti, is one of them.
I hope in the coming season when we are reminded of God’s great love for us, we remember our brothers and sisters who need our support and our prayers. God bless you!
By Susan Wallace