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Worcester, Les Cayes dioceses renew twinning relationship

Posted By September 5, 2017 | 1:14 pm | Lead Story #1

By Margaret M. Russell
The Catholic Free Press

The leaders of two dioceses joyfully joined their people once again in a covenant of solidarity.  Worcester’s Bishop McManus and Haiti’s Cardinal Chibly Langlois of the Diocese of Les Cayes renewed the twinning relationship that began 27 years ago. In true Haitian tradition, with prayer, music and dance, more than 250 people attended a two-hour Mass Sunday at St. Joseph Church of Holy Family Parish in Worcester. During the Mass, Bishop McManus and Cardinal Langlois, Haiti’s first cardinal, signed the covenant which is renewed every three years.
Representatives from various twinning parishes and the Haitian community that worships at St. Joseph, prayed together for the mission of the diocesan Haitian Apostolate. The Haitian Choir of St. Angela Parish in Mattapan shared music in multiple languages, including Creole and English. And four young girls who worship at St. Joseph’s performed several liturgical dances, to the delight of many in the congregation.
“The most powerful prayer that a Catholic can offer is the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Here we come together to offer the Eucharist and celebrate our solidarity,” Bishop McManus said during his homily.
DSC03629 He recalled his visits to Haiti and told how he was struck by the poverty.  He said the Haitian people have lived a long history of injustice and suffering, caused by corrupt government officials and natural disasters. “But they have not forgotten God, nor abandoned their Catholic faith,” he noted.
He said that one theme emerged in his many conversations with Cardinal Langlois: Education is the way for the Haitian people to make progress socially, politically and economically. The diocesan Haitian Apostolate, directed by Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy, herself a Haitian and a Sister of St. Anne, has education as one of its main goals. Individuals can “adopt” a child through the Apostolate for the purpose of paying for their education, which is not free in Haiti.
About 15 parishes in the Diocese of Worcester, Bishop McManus said, have twinning relationships with parishes, nursing homes, orphanages or health care clinics in the Diocese of Les Cayes. At least 10 parishes twin through the diocesan Haitian Apostolate and others have longstanding relationships with organizations such as Be Like Brit, Free the Kids’ Pwoje Espwa, and Forward in Health.
Bishop McManus told the gathering Sunday that he has invited 20 more parishes to consider twinning.
Before the close of Mass, Cardinal Langlois expressed his gratitude. DSC03677
“Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your generous support,” he said. “Without you – the priests of the Diocese of Worcester, the parishes of the Diocese of Worcester – we couldn’t talk today about twinning. Twinning is an expression of the love of God,” he said.
Cardinal Langlois said twinning will help fill the needs of the parishes in Haiti, the needs of the schools, health care and infrastructure.
“You are missionaries in the Diocese of Les Cayes, answering the call of Pope Francis to be a Church that is going out,” reaching out to others, the cardinal said.
“All thanks is for God; all thanks is for you, too,” he told the congregation.
Following Mass, those who have been involved in supporting people and parishes in Haiti shared a luncheon at St. Stephen Parish’s hall and also shared their experiences. Many of the twinning parishes set up displays showing their interactions with parishes in Haiti.
“I like the idea of people getting together in friendship and unity,” said 15-year-old Christina Brady of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hopedale. Sacred Heart’s pastor, Father William C. Konicki, was one of the first in the diocese to travel to Haiti. He lived there for seven years and set up a diocesan mission house, Kay Sen Paul (House of Saint Paul, named after the patron of the Worcester Diocese).
Jessica McGuire, Christina’s mother, said Father Konicki “goes above and beyond” raising money for Haiti and keeping parishioners informed with pictures and updates on their twin parish, St. Gerard Parish in Lagaudray.
Some parishioners and priests have taken mission trips to Haiti and experienced the people and the country first-hand.
Pauline Marney and John Bowe of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Northampton support students through the Haitian Apostolate by collecting items and filling backpacks. Ms. Marney has been to Haiti once. Mr. Bowe has traveled there three times and recently went to help distribute the backpacks for the start of the school year.DSC03717
They also organize a collection in their parish that supports Forward in Faith, the medical clinic in Font Fred started by Dr. John and Paula Mulqueen of Gardner. In one weekend, the parishioners donated enough money to pay for one year of health exams and services for 244 children at the clinic, Mr. Bowe said.
After witnessing the poverty – and the joy – of the people during a visit in May, Tom Josie of St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury, said he experienced a wave of guilt.
“What have I done to deserve all the good Lord has given me, when others have so little? I thank the good Lord every day,” he said. St. Mary’s twins with St. Michel in Roche-a-Bateau.
Father Conrad S. Pecevich, whose former parish, St. Anne in Southborough, has a twining relationship, with Sainte Anne in Camp-Perrin, encouraged parishes to start twinning. He was impressed by the generosity of the people on a trip to Haiti. “What little they had, they gave back to us,” he said.
“Only when you experience the people and the poverty, that’s when you’re convinced – ‘we have to do something,’” Father Pecevich said.