On September 12, 2019, the Daughters of Jesus held a celebration in the chapel of the Mother House, Kermaria, to give thanks for our 50 years of presence in Haiti. It was important to mark these years, after having just left the country. Sisters Marie-Thérèse Quéré and Annick Quérellou share some highlights of the occasion in a brief interview.
Marie- Thérèse: Annick, you were present at this celebration. Could you tell us what resonated with you as you listened to the history of the Sisters’ mission in Haiti?
Annick: First of all, the precise nature of the call. Bishop Rémy Augustin, a Haitian bishop in exile met the Superior General, Mother Pauline, in Rome in 1966, on the occasion of a Council of the Congregation. He asked her for Sisters to help educate the poor children in his country.
And secondly, the positive response of the Congregation. In September 1969, four Canadian Sisters from Rimouski arrived in Bonneau. They opened a school there and were concerned from the outset about introducing Creole into the curriculum offered to students. “It’s a very complex language, different from ours, the language of a people who have lived through hard times and struggled to survive,” one Sister said.
M.T. It seems to me that the Sisters were also involved in the life of the Church outside of formal education?
A. Yes, but I understood that they had to go through a tough experience of inculturation. “Remaining true to yourself and yet being open to change … getting as close as possible to the people by trying to understand what they were going through. »
Their commitments expressed great proximity and solidarity with the most disadvantaged:
– Working in schools and training centres
– Working with villagers to improve their living conditions
– Weekly meetings with juvenile prisoners in connection with the
Missionaries of Charity
– Meetings of street children.
M.T. We have just left Haiti, but I seem to remember that there was an episode earlier in the life of the country when we were literally on the verge of closure?
A. Oh yes, during the 1994 coup d’état. The Canadian Embassy asked all of its nationals to leave the country. The General Council left each Sister free to make her own decision. As a result, some of them made the courageous choice to stay in Port-au-Prince and La Croix. They lived through the painful events caused by the political crisis alongside the local population.
M.T. Is this not a way of “honouring the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God” as it says in No 3 of our Rule of Life? Undoubtedly, in the presence of the Sisters, in this difficult moment, but also throughout their whole stay from 1969 to 2019. How did they express this?
A. I would answer that question with the words of a Sister :
“This presence allowed us:
– to reveal, through our proclamation, but especially through our way of being, the Christ who took
our human condition, to reveal it in all its humanity.
– to awaken those we lived alongside to a sense of responsibility.
– to give priority to the most disadvantaged, to those who left abandoned by the wayside”.
Invited to share her reactions after the celebration, Sister Monique Le Strat simply said that she had appreciated :
– the evocation, in 7 sequences, of the mission of the Sisters to a people affected by poverty and disasters.
– the celebration as a key moment, impressive in its silence, listening in deep communion with the people of Haiti.
Thank you to the missionary Sisters and to those who prepared this intense time of sharing, prayer and thanksgiving. It encouraged us to continue on the road of our mission as Daughters of Jesus: “To Honour the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God”.
On our road together …..
“LET US KEEP ALIVE THE MEMORY OF THE LORD
LET US CHERISH IN OUR HEARTS
THE MEMORY OF HIS WONDERS. »
To know more about the “7 sequences”
Srs Marie-Thérèse Quéré et Annick Quérellou dj.