“Jubilate! Jubilee! Shout for Joy!”
On Sunday, the 24th of January 2021, the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in the District of Haiti celebrated in a special way the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the launching of the 325th Jubilee Year of the Founding of the Congregation.
As a prelude and to better prepare for the celebration, the Sisters of the Community of the District House in Delmas 31, together with the faithful who regularly attend services in the chapel, observed a Triduum from Thursday to Saturday (January 21-23). This included the sharing of biblical texts taken from the Epistles of Saint Paul, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary, Litany prayer of Saint Paul, and a closing prayer during Vespers.
For the apostle Paul, gratitude is an attitude and an inner and profound disposition that is deeply rooted in daily life. A graced time to renew one’s faith and zeal to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to give thanks to God for the gift of 325 years of existence and service of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres to the world through all these centuries.
“Lord, how wonderful are your works, our hearts are full of joy!” Finally, the long-awaited day has arrived. Despite the disruptive race of the pandemic, the participants with their masks on, cannot but reflect the joy in their hearts. Our little chapel was packed to the brim. There were as many people inside as there were outside. It was not possible to respect the 3-meter distance demanded by the local authorities.
As one, we raised our gratitude and our cheers to God! Everyone was there: the guests, all our Sisters from the different local communities, the faithful who came earlier than usual, fearing that they would not find a place. The formal ceremony lasted for 2 hours.
“Lord, I do not ask where You are taking me,” goes the song during the entrance procession.
After the Introduction and a brief glimpse into the life of St. Paul, the Choir sang the entrance song: “Exult with joy, people of the universe … Jubilee… sing… Alleluia !”
The Archbishop, accompanied by some Priests, presided over the ceremony marked by the rite of the blessing of the water used for the sprinkling of the Assembly. This was followed by the procession of the Word by one of the Priests solemnly carrying the Lectionary accompanied by two Postulants each carrying a lighted candle to symbolize the Sunday of the Word of God proclaimed by Pope Francis.
At the beginning of his homily, the Archbishop spoke highly of the places where the Sisters are on mission in Haiti. After wishing us a Happy Jubilee Year and a Happy Feast of St. Paul, he asked us to follow the example of St. Paul and be his worthy imitators. His message emphasized our responsibility to the planet, particularly to the human family. He exhorted us in the manner of St. Paul to come out of our routine drowsiness and be clothed with the new man ready to proclaim the Kingdom of God in and out of season in our everyday life: that peace, justice, love, brotherhood may reign as we allow ourselves to be pierced by the Word heard and meditated on; and that our lives may be slowly transformed daily in the image of God, as we walk towards our heavenly homeland. His homily truly edified us.
After the song of Thanksgiving: “Mayifikat, mesi Bondye … Viv Bondye,” a couple whose wife is a Friend of St. Paul approached the Altar to receive from the Archbishop a special blessing on their 50th wedding anniversary. The husband said these words, “I left home at least 15 times, and each time I returned, came the realization that the Lord has really made us one for the other.” The chapel resounded with applause.
Then our District Superior said the word of thanks to the Archbishop, the Priests, the different Congregations who came to support us with their prayers and of course, to the choir and the faithful. Then our esteemed Sr Jeanne Maurice, took the floor to express her joy of belonging to the Congregation, inviting both the young girls present and those not around but may have to opportunity to hear the broadcast of the Mass thanks to two television stations, to respond when God calls.
Before giving his final blessing, the Archbishop expressed his joy and satisfaction in the work that the Sisters are doing in the country, and invited the young people “to come and register in the notebook of the Congregation which is still open.” The ceremony ended in a festive note.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, we all proceeded to the refectory where a fraternal and succulent agape prepared with care and love by the Sisters and the young girls of our 2 local schools awaited everyone. The Archbishop, Priests, Religious Sisters, Laity had only one word to express their satisfaction: It was beautiful; it was beautiful! With hungry stomachs, we all partook of the banquet.