By Marie-Paule Sanfaçon, m.i.c.
Have you ever seen a bougainvillea? It’s a marvelous climbing plant which comes in a variety of colors. It is easy to grow and is a popular landscape in Haiti; the poor as well as the rich can decorate their property. It’s free! How can it be propagated? From stem cuttings which are planted in the soil and watered, it’s as simple as that. The stem takes root, grows, flowers and gives joy. Rain or shine, it is there for all to admire.
The bougainvillea could be compared to the Word of God. The missionary sows the Word and by the grace of God it takes root in the human heart. Lately, some missionaries from Taiwan went to mainland China and during their stay they observed how people still
have the faith notwithstanding decades of revolution and persecution. Evangelization in China began in the XVIIth century. Christianity was introduced by the Jesuits and the secular priests of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. The Taiwan visitors were delighted to discover an active Church in the Diocese of Guangdong (Canton). The same wonder is happening in Cuba. Notwithstanding the Communist regime of Fidel Castro, faith is alive more than ever. Scripture does say: The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow… It judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Heb 4:12). Like the bougainvillea the Word of God, saturated with Sunlight, brings joy to the heart even to the poorest and gives strength to accept many trials. This is Christ’s active presence in our hearts, it is the profound dynamic of the Gospel.
As Christians it is our duty to help God’s Word take root and germinate in time. Like that young boy who had five small barley loaves and two small fish, little did he know what the Lord would do with his modest offering; He gave food to a very large crowd of people (Jn 6: 1.15). How encouraging this is for us! The Lord also transforms our slightest good deeds into an invaluable source of life.
The articles in this issue help us reflect on the importance of our deeds, no matter how meager they are. The Lord blesses
thoughtful and loving actions, he makes them flourish in abundance and touches the hearts of those in need.
With confidence, let us do good deeds and spread the Good News, God will know how to transform our modest sowing into a blooming plant.
By Maurice Demers
The Haitian people have struggled for their freedom throughout their existence: first, the abolition of slavery in 1794, then the declaration of independence in 1804 (as the first free black republic in the world), then the opposition against imperialism (both French and American) and the insurrection against dictators who have marked its political history. Since 1942, hundreds of missionaries from Quebec have gone to Haiti to evangelize the population and support the local Church, as well as help the people in their quest for emancipation. The experience of Sister Marie-Paule Sanfaçon in Haiti, from 1971 to 1990, tells us of her meeting with the Haitian
people and what the missionaries tried to sow in this country. We spoke with Sister Marie-Paule to hear about her missionary experience.
What first emerged in our interview is the love that Sister Marie-Paule has for the Haitian people. She told us: The Haitian people get under your skin; they are very endearing. After learning Creole, interacting with young people and rubbing shoulders with Haitian women and girls in the town and countryside, Sister Marie-Paule became so well-integrated into her adopted country that she would have liked to spend the rest of her days there.
She first taught catechesis, English, geometry and art at the Cap-Haitian school. She explained to us that later Father Yves Bélizaire, pastor at Trou-du-Nord, asked her to do pastoral ministry in his parish. After a few years, she accepted the invitation of Monseignor François Gayot, from Cap-Haitian, who wanted her to be in charge of their catechesis program. Judging her contribution as being a humble one, Sister Marie-Paul was able to reach hundreds of Haitian girls and boys through her teachings.[ ... ]