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Christ the King Parish twins with Haiti parish, school

Posted By December 12, 2013 | 12:54 pm | Featured Article #1

Statue marks connection with Haiti

By William T. Clew

Christ the King Parish in Worcester now has a twin in Haiti.
The parish signed a covenant at Masses last weekend to help Immaculate Conception Parish in Les Anglais, a town on the south coast of Haiti. The area is agricultural, with rich soil, but is the area most exposed to hurricanes, according to Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy, director of the Worcester Diocesan Haitian ministry, a native of Haiti and a sister of St. Anne.
It is about three hours from Les Cayes, the seat of the diocese with which the Worcester Diocese twinned in 1996.
Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor, said the parish council has been meeting to discuss twinning with the Haitian parish for about six months. The meetings have been open to members of the parish, he said. Members of St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury, which is twinned with a Haitian parish, and Sister Judith, have attended meetings.
Letters went out to parishioners and the response was overwhelmingly in favor of twinning. The parish council voted unanimously in favor of the agreement, Msgr. Sullivan said. It was signed last weekend.
The document says, in part, “We pledge to give to Immaculate Conception Parish of Les Anglais in the Diocese of Les Cayes, Haiti, financial aid of $600 per month – Support for its Catholic School – and daily community prayer.”
It was signed by Msgr. Sullivan, Sister Judith and Janet R. Rauktis, chair of the parish council.
Christ the King has taken on full responsibility for the Haitian parish school, Msgr. Sullivan said. The $600 each month will pay the tuition for the 550 pupils, teachers’ salaries, for the one hot meal served the pupils each day and for their books.
Immaculate Conception has six missions in the mountains, Msgr. Sullivan said. Pupils come from throughout the area. Some walk five hours each way, each day to get to class, he said. They  get up at 2 a.m. and walk through  mountainous terrain to get to school. After class they walk home.
Msgr. Sullivan said the twinning will do as much for the parishioners of Christ the King as it will do for the people in the Haitian parish.
“Whenever you give, you get back so much more,” he said.
A parishioner, Kathleen Gadbois, her daughter and her son. plan to go to Haiti from Dec. 23 to Dec 29. Mrs. Gadbois will demonstrate methods of teaching mathematics to teachers at the Immaculate Conception school.
Sister Judith said pupils in Haiti learn by memorization in mathematics classes. But, she said, that doesn’t work for everyone. She said Mrs. Gadbois will have a four-hour session each day with different groups of 20 teachers to show them other methods of teaching.
“I could not be more proud of our parish family,” Msgr. Sullivan said in his homily at the 7:30 a.m. Mass Sunday, in reference to the twinning. “Because of what we’re going to do, the blind will see … and the poor – the very poor – will have the Good News spoken to them.”
Sister Judith told the congregation they are bringing good news to a poor parish, showing love and justice.
“The pastor – he needs everything at the parish,” she said. He is the one parishioners go to when they are hungry or have other needs.
“We are building the Kingdom of God,” she said, speaking of forming bridges of solidarity between people of different races. “A key test of a parish’s catholicity is going beyond boundaries.” The twinning will help them and the Haitians, she said.
“You are bonded together, praying for each other,” she said.
“This morning they are going to pray for you.” She said it was a great blessing for Immaculate Conception Parish that Christ the King was signing the covenant with them on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Gesturing toward the parish’s new statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sister Judith noted that she is patroness of Haiti.

Tabernacle moved back to center

A restoration project in the sanctuary of Christ the King Church returned the tabernacle to its original place and added a statue which can remind parishioners that they now are twinned with a parish in Haiti.
Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor, said that he felt that the church, which had no statues in the sanctuary, should have one of the Blessed Mother. And since the parish had been considering twinning with a parish in Haiti, an appropriate statue would be that of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the patroness of Haiti.
The statue was custom-made in Italy. It stands on the marble pedestal where the tabernacle once stood. It shows the Blessed Mother holding a young Christ. Both wear crowns.
“It’s a gorgeous statue,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “Everyone has fallen in love with it.”
Now, after the latest move, the tabernacle stands on a wooden throne or pedestal behind the altar, under the replica of the crucified Christ. That is where it was located when the church was built in 1958. It had been moved in the 1980s from behind the altar to the marble pedestal on the side of the sanctuary, where the statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help now stands, Msgr. Sullivan said.
A third change in the sanctuary, he said, is the seating for the priest and deacons. The priest and deacons used to sit behind the altar, the priest on a large throne. Their seats have been moved to the front side of the sanctuary, 25 feet closer to the congregation. The throne was replaced by a smaller, more comfortable chair, Msgr. Sullivan said.
– William T. Clew