On Wednesday, April 18th my 17 year old son Jacob, Elizabeth van der Weide, John Meachum of the Diocese of Eau Claire, and Megan Larscheid an intern at St James Milwaukee, left O’Hare Airport on our journey to Saint Marc’s Parish in Jeannette Haiti. We were traveling to Jeannette to join in the celebration of the Feast of St Marc, their patronal feast day.
We spent Wednesday night in a hotel in Port au Prince and made the drive to Jeannette on Thursday morning. On the way out of Port au Prince we found the main road closed and we took a detour through the suburb of Carrefour. The traffic was stop and go and this detour added two hours to our trip. It was hot and cramped, there were six of us in the car, but in those two hours I saw more of urban life in Haiti than I had in the whole week I spent there last July.
We arrive in Jeannette mid afternoon and after a wonderful dinner of saus pwa (bean gravy), rice, and fried plantains we went up the hill to the church for a service that the Haitian People called “Reve:” two and a half hours of singing, prayer, scripture reading and a sermon. The church was packed! Over one hundred people came out on a Thursday night and they all came back again the next night! Peré (French/Creole for “father”) Wisnel told us that the musical instruments that Saint Andrew’s and Resurrection Mukwanago gave to Saint Marc’s had helped to fill the church every time the doors are open. That gift, of a little over $2,000 has made a huge impact on the life of his community!
In between the Thursday and Friday night Reve services there was a 6:30 am Eucharist on Friday morning which I celebrated for over forty members of the congregation. On Saturday there was a retreat for Baptism candidates and at noon we celebrated the Eucharist again and Peré Wisnel asked me to baptize the eleven people who had come, with their families and sponsors, to be initiated into Christ’s Church! It was an incredible honor to stand there with those people at that important moment of their lives and to say “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Hoy Spirit.” We came back with photos and even some video of the baptisms but I don’t need to look at them. Those moments will be in my memory forever.
On Sunday we gathered for the Feast of St. Mark. Literally hundreds of people had made the trip to Jeannette, some of them traveling in busses with their choirs and instruments over the pot hole ridden roads of Haiti for seven hours to be part of the celebration. The Bishop of The Diocese of Haiti, The Rt. Rev. Jean-Zache Duracin, and at least a dozen members of the clergy of Haiti were present and part of the procession. I processed in, sat up front under the tarps that had been strung in the yard to accommodate the large crowd, and watched as Bishop Duracin confirmed and received over 60 People! People sang, and danced, prayed, and worshipped for over three hours! At the end of the service, as Peré Wisnel was thanking everyone who helped to make the service possible, he invited me to the lectern and I read a letter from Steven Miller, 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee, to Bishop Duracin extending his greetings and the love and support of the Diocese for our partners in Ministry in Haiti. It was an amazing day, filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit and the Joy of a people whose love of life and one another is clear in everything they do.
We came back with a lot of pictures and video footage and Jacob has created two wonderful videos from the footage he shot. You will find links to the pictures and videos on the Saint Andrew’s web page at:
You can also go to our home page and click on the Saint Marc’s Parish link in the navigation pane at the top left of the home page.
If you or your parish would be interested in hearing the story of the Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Project and the work that we are doing with our partners in Jeannette please check out our web site at
You should also feel free to contact me at Saint Andrew’s, the contact information is available on our web site through the link above.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to travel to Haiti and to represent the Diocese of Milwaukee and the People of Saint Andrew’s. Thanks be to God for the work that we are all doing together!