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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Taking Christ’s Place
Fr. Michael Mitchell LC, consecrated women and missionaries work among the poorest of the poor in Haiti

Soccer with the orphans
Fr. Michael Mitchell LC plays soccer with Haitian orphans

Following are the reflections of Fr. Michael Mitchell LC who served as chaplain on a recent mission to Haiti.  With some Regnum Christi consecrated women and other missionaries, he served alongside the Missionaries of Charity, ministering the poorest of the poor.

Port au Prince, Haiti -- We arrived June 11, 2012, and worked for a full week in different aid centers run by the Missionaries of Charity.  

The most beautiful experience was with the small, sick and abandoned children at the orphanage.  The sisters care for over 50 of these children of God, many with life threatening diseases.  Many arrive so malnourished that there is nothing left to do but show the children as much love and care as possible before the Lord comes and takes them to heaven. 

Anointing of the Sick
Fr. Mitchell administers the Anointing of the Sick
second we entered the orphanage a heart-wrenching sight met us.  Fifty little babies and toddlers, all with arms outstretched, asking to simply be held.  They wanted nothing more than to feel the loving arms of someone holding them.  We did so eagerly, scooping up as many babies as we could and spending long hours with them.  We cared for them under the direction of the Missionaries of Charity. Our nurse, Kelly, helped run I.V.s and care for the weakest.  I baptized the new arrivals that daily showed up at the door.  The rest were busy feeding and holding as many as possible.

One little baby in particular named Etienne needed a lot of love.  We found him in his crib and he was very unresponsive to affection, did not want to be held or touched.  (RC consecrated woman) Jana Crea decided to adopt him personally and so she held Etienne for a full day hoping to, little by little, bring Etienne back around.  He was closed up, with a very blank expression on his face and he would moan and whimper continually.  Jana brought Etienne to me and asked if I would bless him.  I did so, blessing him with holy water and making the sign of the cross over him. 
Playing with the orphans
Missionary Mike Suter plays with some of the Haitian orphans
He immediately focused his eyes on Jana and reached out his hands to be held.  His eyes became alive and he wanted food.  He quickly ate two small bowls of rice to the surprise of everyone.  By the end of the day he was laughing and cooing just like the other babies.  Somehow, Etienne had been suffering in body and in soul.  I felt so blessed to be part of that experience. 

At St Joseph’s clinic the sisters run a center for medicine distribution and to care for those with injuries and diseases.  Beside the clinic was an outdoor chapel with Eucharistic adoration.  As we entered into the clinic area and prepared ourselves with gloves, gauze and bandages, we could hear the devotional songs from the Haitians in adoration.  It added a very beautiful background to what we were about to do.  

Christ says that whatever we do for others, we do for Him.  With that truth on our minds, we started caring for the more than 100 men and women and children with all kinds of wounds and diseases.  We took off bandages, rewrapped and cleaned the wounds as best we could.  Looking
Celebrating Mass
Missionaries celebrate Mass with the Missionaries of Charity
into the eyes of each patient, we tried to see Christ himself. 
While it was a very difficult thing to do, each missionary that did so was so touched by the experience that they all wished to do it again. 

As I was tending to the sick, they brought me to a woman who was dying and wished for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  I quickly made my way through a crowd of Haitians, and put my priestly stole over my shoulders.  I got in the vehicle where the woman was lying and proceeded to give her the last rites.  She died shortly afterwards, at peace with God. 

On my way back to the clinic, they brought me a little premature baby that was only days old.  Knowing she would not live long, I baptized her immediately, naming her Mary. 

Once inside the clinic again, I prepared to hand out medicines with the missionaries.  A young man collapsed on the floor in pain and quickly became unconscious.  We administered an I.V. and I donned my stole again to give him the sacraments. 

Later, we also walked through the poorest parts of Port au Prince -- the tent cities.  There, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, we enthroned the image of the Sacred Heart in 20 different homes.  We saw much misery and poverty, but we also saw so much joy on the faces of each person.  The Haitians felt truly blessed to have a priest and the missionaries come to their homes and bring Jesus to them.  I will never forget those hours walking among the poorest of the poor. 

For me it was a week of deep grace, of life and death, that I will never forget it.  I am so thankful that our Lord has chosen me to be His priest and to minister to his children, and in some way, take His place. I dearly want to return to Haiti as soon as possible to continue working among the poor and sick.  The country is in need of many missionaries. 




Related links

Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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