From the Shrine in La Victoria to the People in Port-au-Prince: The Jubilee Pilgrim Mother for Haiti on the Go
Official Sending Out of the First Pilgrim Mother Picture in Haiti
(Sr. Mariluisa) Since September, the Jubilee Pilgrim Mother for Haiti, sent out from the Shrine in the Dominican Republic in May, is walking the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During the 50th jubilee celebration of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign a list was made with all the countries where the Pilgrim MTA was not there yet. Haiti and Curacao were among them. The delegation from Dominican Republic that had traveled to Brazil to participate in the celebration accepted two of the fifty Pilgrim MTA's for fifty new countries, and the responsibility to take care that Haiti and Curacao would receive them.
Since November 9, 2001, the day in which the delegations went back to their countries, we were waiting for the moment when the Blessed Mother would open the door for us. That door was opened in May 2001 when a group of Haitians, members of a Catholic movement known as "Power of the Divine Love," came to our retreat house in La Victoria near Santo Domingo. They have a special devotion to the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother.
Crowning of the Pilgrim Mother Pictures and the Auxiliary and Sending Out of the Jubilee Pilgrim Mother
During their stay, on May 20, the missionaries of the Pilgrim Mother gathered for their annual pilgrimage that was marked by the crowning of the Pilgrim Mother pictures and the Auxiliary - each crown a petition: Mater, be Queen of the Families and of the New Millennium.
It was a beautiful view – all the missionaries in the procession, their Pilgrim Mother in one hand and flowers in the other, singing and praying with devotion and sincere love. At the head of the procession, one of the "small John Pozzobon's of the Dominican Republic" carried the Auxiliary on his shoulders as John Pozzobon did all his lifetime. The "Knights of the Virgin of Fatima" formed a honor guard for the Auxiliary.
After the crowning, all could pay homage to the Queen – with flowers that formed a colorful, big crown, with songs, dances and presentations. During the solemn Holy Mass, the sending out of new missionaries – adults, youth, and children – took place. At the end of the day, a Styrofoam crown was carried to the skies by a cluster of colorful balloons.
Sr. M. Nilda, who was then working with the Pilgrim MTA, made the necessary contacts with the group from Haiti and explained our longing to them. They accepted it with much joy. On May 21 at the closing Holy Mass, after a four-day retreat in our house, the solemn sending out of the Pilgrim MTA took place.
The Pilgrim Mother on Haitian Soil
But the MTA did not start her pilgrimage at her arrival at Haiti. Instead she remained in the prayer and meeting room of the movement "Power of Divine Love", until they could talk to the bishop of their diocese, Msgr. Joseph Miot.
The Blessed Mother herself prepared this meeting with the bishop. He accepted her in his diocese. To their surprise, the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign in the Dominican Republic received an invitation signed by the bishop to be present at the official sending out of the first Pilgrim MTA in Haitian territory on September 1, 2001. This gave us a lot of joy and we immediately started with our preparations for the trip.
Sent out by the Queen
On August 31 at 11:30 a.m., three Schoenstatt Sisters – Sr. M. Georgina,Sr. Mariluisa and Sr. M. Mercedes – and two missionaries from the League, departed from Santo Domingo to Haiti. We traveled through the south part of our country. At 6:00 p.m. we were at the frontier where our luggage and passports were checked. After about one hour we entered the Haitian territory, a journey though an impressive landscape. There was a beautiful lake to the right, which with the big mountain on the left forms a curved road, making the landscape even more beautiful. We arrived at Port-au-Prince at 7:00 p.m., a city between mountains, a beautiful city in spite of their poverty. We were received with much joy by some of the members of the movement "Power of Divine Love," the priest in charge of the shrine of our Lady of Perpetual Help – from where the Blessed Mother was going to be sent out – and two religious of the Daughters of Mary, in which house we were going to stay. The Daughters of Mary gave us such a welcome that we felt right at home. They invited us to have supper with them in their dining room where they gave us a very joyful welcome.
The Great Day for Which We Prepared since November!
After supper we had an hour of recreation together. We taught them some of the songs of the Pilgrim MTA, which they learned fast and sang enthusiastically. One of the side doors of the house opens towards the shrine of our Lady of Perpetual Help. There on a beautiful altar was the Pilgrim MTA that had come from Brazil, had been in the Dominican Republic and that was going to be officially sent out to bring the graces from the Shrine to the people of Haiti on September 1. The great day was here. The Eucharistic celebration began at 6:45 a.m., presided by Bishop Miot, accompanied by two priests and two deacons, who were going to be ordained priests the next day. The Holy Mass started with a prologue of praise to the Mother of God, then the choir intoned the entrance song with much enthusiasm. The church was packed, ca. 800 persons. The little picture of the MTA was duplicated and everyone received a black and white copy. The Eucharistic celebration was beautifully and well prepared, all the faithful participated with much fervor. The longed for moment came after the communion; everyone knelt and the bishop started the consecration prayer to the Blessed Mother written by Pope John Paul II. Then he blessed the image of the Pilgrim MTA and walked all around the church sprinkling holy water on the faithful. When he got back to the altar he took the MTA, held it high, and blessed all the people present and then gave it to the group of Divine Love. After the final blessing we went to the house where this movement meets, where they have prepared a beautiful welcome for the Pilgrim MTA. We met in front of the house and went in a procession to the throne that was prepared for her. She was solemnly received with songs and prayers. At the end of this act, about 10:00 a.m., we all went to the dining room where a delicious breakfast was served.
The Pilgrim Mother will find Open Hearts for her Son
After breakfast we went to visit the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. The church was full of people praying with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. We greeted Jesus and were given a tour of the church. We went to a side chapel were we found people prostrated in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. From there we went to another side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was also exposed. We were so impressed with this deep spirit of prayer and sacrifice. We asked the young man giving us the tour if this was because it was first Saturday, but he answered that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed every day and there is always people in prayer. The Pilgrim Mother will find open hearts for her Son.
A faith Capable of Moving Mountains
We had a meeting at 4:00 p.m. with Bishop Miot. He expressed his satisfaction with our presence and the presence of the MTA in Haiti. He said he had been in Schoenstatt before and was waiting for the moment in which the movement will come to his diocese. He was very happy and already gave us the welcome into his diocese. We explained to him that our establishment in Haiti would depend on the development of the Pilgrim MTA there. We are all very enthused and trust that the MTA will work miracles in this poor and troubled country, with love and faith capable of moving mountains. When we went back to the house where we were staying we met a group of young people, members of the parish choir, we sang some songs for them and then they sang some for us. They looked as very sound and joyful young people with a contagious enthusiasm.
Almost one year after the sending out in Santa Maria, Brazil, at least three of the 50 Jubilee Pilgrim Mother pictures arrived at the country of their destination: Turkey (January 2001), Senegal (September 2001), and Haiti.
Translation: Sr. Liliana, Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA
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