Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Drive (MMWHD)
Absolute Gift from God
As we approach Christmas, I am excited to update everyone about St. Matthew’s October mission trip. The Haiti mission trip was an absolute gift from God. St. Matthew’s Mission Team spent a week with the Missionaries of the Poor. The Team included my wife, Patty, and three St. Matthew’s Parishioners, Joanna Patcha, Suzy Keenan and Joe Becker. We stayed with the MOP Brother in their Guest House and visited the school, Chapel and Community School St. Marc De Tremesse, which St. Matthew’s Parishioners help to support through the MMWHD.
The dedicated Brothers from all over the world continue to serve the poor with love and respect. The MOP in Haiti have two missions one in Cap Haitien and the other in Port-Au-Prince. On this trip we only visited Cap Haitien mission. The Beautiful Mission, which is an Oasis from the streets of Cap Haitien, has four centers, St. Joseph, an orphanage for disabled children, Azeele, the elderly nursing home, Bethlehem , a hospice center for aids/HIV, and Nazareth, a dormitory for school children to live, study, and pray. On the compound, 15 brothers and 5 candidates diligently serve over 150 patients, help local projects, maintain a beautiful garden and lots of healthy animals and support the local community with Sunday mass and food lines.
Our group focused on caring and pampering the residents of the Azeele Center, feeding and bathing the children in St. Joseph and sorting and organizing the children’s clothes. Throughout the days, we realized that we were not serving the Haitian residents, they were serving us. Although these men, women, and children have mostly been rejected by their families because of their condition, they chose to love and be joyful, as Jesus did. It wasn’t about completing tasks, working hard, or providing things for them. It was about showing them they are not forgotten and being part of our community. The simple interactions provided us all the opportunity to see the face of Jesus Christ in the eyes of the residents.
Mark Creasser was the Executive Director of Tremesse School and President of Hands for Haiti. Mark will be greatly missed. Many of us have committed to ensure Mark’s dreams live on and grow. Upon Mark’s death, it was decided in Mark’s honor to rename the school after St. Mark, the evangelist and Gospel writer. Mark Creasser was truly a powerful evangelist with his words, but more importantly with his actions of helping the poorest of the poor. The Catholic Church in Haiti approved the name change and the teachers at the school, who loved Mark, were overjoyed. The school, with over 200 students, has been blessed this year with the archdiocese’s involvement in appointing a new school administrator, Father Leon. The MOP Brothers were very instrumental earlier this year introducing Hands for Haiti to the archbishop.
We journeyed to the school three times during the week which provided us the opportunity to see the rural communities, students, and families. We worked and played with students, met their families and learned more about rural Haitian life. The children and families have very little, but they are all so grateful for their education and daily meal. Their homes have mud floors and no water or electricity, but they all have an “Attitude of Gratitude”. The most beautiful trip to the school occurred on the day we were leaving when we had mass in Chapel using St. Matthew’s donated Sacramentals. We all felt the Holy Spirit’s Presence.
It’s Really a Miracle!
Throughout 2017, Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Drive shipped eight physical containers and one virtual. Six physical containers went to support the two Haitien missions and two containers went to support MOP Jamaica totaling 327,000 lbs of food and supplies. The food that St. Matthew’s parishioners provide is critical to run the centers for both the Brothers and residents. This year we also were able to provide supplies for a new roof, new stove and supplies to rebuild their electrical grid.
The virtual container included direct school education support of $20,000, sustainability and physical therapy funds of $10,000 and local food donations of $14,000. St. Marc teachers are paid $145 per month, which is actually above the going rate; therefore, St. Matthew is supporting 11.5 teachers year-round. MMWHD continues to shift funds to sustainability for livestock, tilapia and agriculture. With chickens, and other livestock, the Brothers have been able to supplement food from the containers and make it last longer. Today, the Brothers have over 200 chickens, which produce plentiful eggs and meat for their mission. They also have gardens which produce fresh green beans, cabbage, squash and corn.
As Father Ho Lung writes in the Missionaries of the Poor newsletter; “It’s really a miracle! How can it be that food is provided for 36 years every single day for our homeless and destitute without money, without a paid job, every single meal given and fed by the Brothers. It is provided by a miracle, your kindness our friends.”
Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Drive Team also wants to thank you for all your work you do to help the World Poor. On our trip we were able to see what a critical difference St. Matthew’s work makes in the lives of the people who need it most.
If you are looking for a Christmas gift from God, we do have another Mission trip plan for January 29th through Feb 3rd if anyone is interested. Father Pat Hoare will be joining us.