As a testimony to a missionary presence in the Caribbean among hundreds of IDPs, the Congregation of Scalabrinian Missionaries joined the reconstruction efforts in Haiti, supporting the Haitian people in their faith and hope, despite the social and economic challenges the country is facing.
On the 14th of April, the Chapel of St. Toma was consecrated, in the Haitian city of Croix des Bouquets, situated in the midst of IDP camps and families affected by the 2010 earthquake.
The Chapel of St. Toma, built with the support of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) and other donors, was consecrated by the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Guire Poulard, with the presence of the Provincial Superior of the Scalabrini Missionaries of the Province of St. Charles Borromeo, Father Matteo Didone, and pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Father Cine Cyriac. Also present were Scalabrinian Fathers Richard Gerard, Sylvain Rubens, Robert Royal, Giussepe Durante and Isaia Birollo, Chaplain of the Mission. Attendees of the celebration included the architect who completed the church project, Alexandru Popescu, and engineer Patrice Baptist. Throughout the project, both architect and engineer were supported by Haitian workers.
Various religious communities in Haiti also attended such as the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, the Daughters of St. Camillus and representatives of community groups such as John XXIII, the college Louverture Clery and all adjacent parishes, including a lively involvement of the Mission’s community.
Demonstrating the living faith of the Haitian people, the Chapel of St. Toma was filled beyond capacity of 500 people, welcoming approximately 700 celebrants.
In a three hour ceremony, the consecration of the new church, built amid the camps, began with the Rite of Consecration of the temple and the altar. Following Roman Catholic Rite, the ceremony began when the Archbishop knocked on the closed Church doors and received the keys of the Temple. Following, the priests and all the attendees celebrated with song and dance, prayers and proclamation of the Word. The altar and the walls of the church were anointed with holy chrism in a remarkable ceremony that inspired the community.
The celebration continued in the Community Center where there were presentations by parish cultural groups. Characteristic of the Haitian people and during a fraternal moment between the Youth Team of the Mission and the Scalabrinian seminarians, a football match ensued on a field adjacent to the Church.