Celebration - 1 September 2018

en - Catholic Haitian convention lights up the city night

By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

A couple thousand lights brightened the night Saturday, as Haitian Catholics took Jesus to Worcester’s streets and seat of government. 


Participants in the Haitian Catholic Charismatic Renewal Congress, held Friday through Sunday at the DCU Center, were processing from the arena to Worcester Common. 


Msgr. Joseph P. Malagreca, spiritual director of the national committee of the Haitian Catholic Charismatic Renewal, carried the Host in a monstrance and celebrated Benediction on the steps of City Hall. 


“This city has welcomed us,” he said, speaking to Jesus and congress attendees who’d joined the procession with lighted candles. “You are present in this sacrament. … Praise You, Jesus. … 


“Here I am, send me,” he continued, repeating the congress’ title. “We ask you, Lord, to bless this whole neighborhood with your presence.”


The 27-year-old congress has been held annually in different states, but this was its first time in the Worcester Diocese, said Msgr. Malagreca, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y. He said local Haitians helped with it.
So did Bishop McManus – he celebrated the opening Mass in English Friday. 


“Thank you, Bishop,” Msgr. Malagreca said. “It’s wonderful when the bishop of the diocese welcomes us and prays with us.” 


Bishop McManus said the diocese has become a diocese of new immigrants, some of whom are Haitians who show their exuberance. He said he was thankful for the presence of so many Haitians here. 


“It was a great opportunity for the Haitian community to make the whole Diocese of Worcester understand the roots of our faith,” said Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy, the Sister of St. Anne who directs the diocese’s Haitian Apostolate. “The way the Haitian people manifest their faith, their joy, their prayers, is a whole cultural rhythm. When we pray we dance, we sing, we enjoy ourselves, we play the drums. This is something very deep for us. … To me this is a witness to the whole diocese how the Haitian people manifest their faith in the charismatic movement.” 


She noted that Haitians, who have concerns about their status as immigrants, prayed for the diocese, and said she believes this will bless the diocese. 


There are not too many Haitians here, but having Haitians from elsewhere join them showed how strong the Haitian community is overall, she said. 


The congress drew about 2,400 people, primarily from the East Coast, where most Haitians in the United States live, Msgr. Malagreca said. He said it is the largest event organized by the Haitian Catholic Charismatic Renewal National Committee.
Most of the congress was in Creole, with a youth track in English, he said. Talks included : “The Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelization,” “The Call to Holiness,” and “Go and Make Disciples of all Nations.” 


“I think now everybody is ready to go where the Lord sends them,” said Laurette Bozil, leader of the charismatic prayer group of the Haitian community at Holy Family Parish in Worcester. She said some participants called her, expressing a desire to come to Church and the prayer meeting and to share the Good News. 


“Everybody wants to go back” to the congress, which is to be held in Florida next year, she said. 


Preaching at Friday’s Mass, Bishop McManus spoke about God’s desire for human beings to spend eternity with him and about the congress theme, “Here I am, send me.” 


God takes the first step, he said, but there must be a human response. He noted that the apostle Peter was married and James and John were with their father when Jesus called them, and they gave up everything to follow him. That is the nature of a vocation to the priesthood, he said. 


He asked for prayers for God to bring renewal by raising up fervent priests to proclaim to the world that Jesus is alive. 


After Saturday’s procession Jean Dupuy, Sister Judith’s brother, and program development coordinator for the Haitian Apostolate, said he’d been to congresses like this in Haiti and once before in the United States. 


“You feel it in your body and your brain,” connecting you to God, giving a boost to your faith, he said of what the congresses do for him.
“It gives you, like, a good rush – energy,” said his 18-year-old son Martin Dupuy, of Holy Family Parish in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. “It brings a lot of people together. I wasn’t expecting a big group of people.” He said he liked the procession “because usually church is inside – it’s a different way” of worshipping. 


“Every year I have to come,” said Marie Voigt, of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Cambridge. “If I don’t come, I am sick.” She liked everything about the congress, especially the procession and the preaching, she said. She said it’s also a chance to meet many people and share her faith, and helps her grow stronger in her faith.