There is an old Haitian proverb that says: “you can cheat the sun, but you can’t cheat the wind.” Jacklin Jean-Louis knows this from personal experience.
I met this 34-year-old farmer and father of four on my recent trip to Kobonal, Haiti. There, Jacklin shared with me that he has always struggled to provide his family with a safe and sturdy house.
“My old house was made of dried palm tree skins. We were fixing it every year because the wind would carry it away. The roof went from being on the house to all over the yard,” he said. “When you have a roof made of palm tree skins, you see the stars when you look up.”
It only took one strong storm and Jacklin’s entire roof would detach from the walls and fly away.
“Man, I was in misery, misery, misery,” he said. “The children were living in a puddle of water and mud.”
In the midst of putting together the remnants of his house, Jacklin learned he would receive a new house, thanks to the Cross Catholic-supported project, Kobonal Haiti Mission. Today, his family is living comfortably in a sturdy home made of concrete—and he asked me to relay his gratitude to those who helped change his life:
“This is only by the grace of God. I work so hard to provide for my kids, but to build a new house is not easy. I could not have done this by myself. Thank you! I am out of misery. Now look at our house. Look at our new hygienic conditions. This new house will help me support my family. I have received the call from God to be more faithful to his service.
“Because you have my family in your heart, then I will keep you all in my heart and prayers!”
Please give a warm welcome to our new chairman of the board, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi!
As you may know, Archbishop Rodi has a long history with Cross Catholic Outreach as a trusted and faithful member of our board of directors – and he brings an impressive resume. Since his ordination to the priesthood in 1978, he has served the Church as, among other things: judge for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Metropolitian Tribunal, professor of canon law at Notre Dame Seminary, executive director of the New Orleans Department of Pastoral Services, Bishop of Biloxi, and now Archbishop of Mobile. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, Tulane University Law School and Notre Dame Seminary.
We are grateful that Archbishop Rodi has stepped in to fill the vacancy left by Bishop Sam Jacobs of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, who has retired from the board after more than a decade of faithful service. We trust that Archbishop Rodi will further the legacy of faith-centered compassion that began under his predecessor. The Archbishop’s episcopal motto, “Caritas Christi Urget Nos” (the love of Christ compels us), reflects his concern for the poor and is a fitting call-to-arms for Cross Catholic Outreach and our compassionate ministry partners around the world.
Thank you, Archbishop Rodi, for your outstanding leadership. You have helped us impact the lives of the least, the last and the lost; and with your blessing, we hope to impact many thousands more.
After more than a decade of faithful service with our ministry, and nearly 50 years in the priesthood, Bishop Sam Jacobs, chairman and founding board member of Cross Catholic Outreach, has announced his retirement.
We are deeply grateful for the compassionate servant-leadership Bishop Jacobs has provided for us while also fulfilling his responsibilities in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. Under his leadership, Cross Catholic Outreach has effectively served the needs of the poorest of the poor. What began as a partnership with a handful of projects has become a global network, expanding throughout Latin America, Africa and East Asia, and distributing a total of more than $1.2 billion in aid across nearly 70 countries.
As chairman of board, Bishop Jacobs has demonstrated a deep enthusiasm for the “new evangelization” and has helped us maintain our focus on holistic ministries that seek to address the needs of mind, body and soul. In addition his involvement with Cross Catholic Outreach, he has served the Church in many capacities, including as chairman of the National Service Committee for the Charismatic Renewal and as Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians for the Diocese of Lake Charles.
Moving forward, Bishop Jacobs will continue his involvement with Cross Catholic Outreach in a more informal capacity as a member of our bishops’ advisory board.
Thank you, Bishop Jacobs, for your service!
We recently received an extraordinary success story from Guatemala! Our ministry partner Esperanza de Vida sends rescue teams into rural villages to save children dying of malnutrition. When they are found, children are rushed to the center to be nourished back to complete health. Here is an excerpt from volunteer Sean Grogan’s rescue experience:
There are so many different stories and experiences I could share with you, but the one that comes to mind is my first rescue. We traveled for hours to reach a boy and all we knew was he was in extremely bad condition. Once we arrived, we walked up the hill to his house, and there, in a dark, dirty, mud shack, laid 16-year-old Eulises.
His body was ravaged by disease, infection and malnutrition. We carried him down the mountain and carefully placed him in the truck and made the long trip home. Eulises was crying in pain at every bump in the rocky road but he was a champ.
When we got to the rescue center and checked him, we saw that he was worse than we thought.
The doctors told us his chances of survival were small because of the infections, but they would do their best to save him. I was able to keep myself together until I called home and then I lost my composure. My first rescue and he probably wouldn’t make it to the next day.
The great thing about what we do here is, we don’t work for man; we work for the Creator.
He uses us to do his will and he knows that everything will work out according to his plan.
Eulises has recovered far better than I ever thought he would and I have the privilege to see him and check his progress each day. Eulises is why we do what we do. We save the lives of the ones everyone else has forgotten.
I met 56-year-old Lucklis Boulet on my visit to Kobonal Haiti Mission last month. Though diligent and hardworking, Lucklis has always found it difficult to support his wife and children. That’s why he is so thankful for Father Glenn Meaux and his ministry. Today Lucklis is a member of the mission’s agriculture program and has been equipped with the skills and opportunities he needs to provide for his family.
“This is the biggest gift God has given me,” he said. “The mission has shown me how to make a better crop and now I can feed my children.”
I first met Janet Kisari last February on a visit to Ewuaso Kedong, an area in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley devastated by cyclical drought. As a widow, she was then struggling to support her five children. Due to the dry climate, she used to spend half of every day fetching water just to meet the daily needs of her family. Though she had dreams of starting a small business and generating an income, the relentless pursuit for water simply took up too much of her time.
“Last year I desired to start a business,” she said. “But life was very hard.”
When I returned to Ewuaso again this spring, the landscape was quite different. Since then, Cross Catholic Outreach completed a large-scale water project, bringing water to 42,000 people. And the impact has been astounding.
Just ask Janet.
“Now my family and I are very happy. I am able to grow tomatoes. I sell them in Nairobi, which provides good money for my children,” she said.
“I am very proud. I am working full-time and my children are getting enough water. They have so much more energy.”
Janet’s new enthusiasm is contagious.
“It makes me glad. Even after seeing water flow here, I am still surprised,” she said. “I never thought such a thing could happen.”
“We thank God very much. He has sent us angels in you!”
It’s hard to believe that the Janet I remembered had a face etched with worry, weary from her daily burdens in the absence of water. But thanks to the new water system, she has been rejuvenated physically, economically and spiritually. With reliable access to water, I am confident that she will keep her newfound smile and continue to reap a harvest that bears much fruit.
Evens, Senat, Lifaite and Ecclesias are still living in the Village, but no longer just as receivers of goodwill. They are also givers. They’ve been reaching out to poor children in a small community near Camp-Perrin with food, fun and guidance. Most of the children they’re working with have illiterate parents and, unless someone intervenes, are on track to a lifetime of abject poverty.
The young men recently caught the attention of a local Haitian radio host, who granted them an interview and congratulated them for their charitable work. It’s only natural, they told the radio host, to want to share something of value with others.
Fr. Marc is very proud of his boys, and so are we! May Fr. Marc’s legacy of compassion continue to imprint itself upon the next generation, as Espwa and Cross Catholic move forward together in service to Haiti’s orphans and vulnerable children.
There’s a long-running debate in the mission field about when to embrace local customs and when to resist them. How do we draw the line between mere cultural differences and a serious ethical rift?
Sometimes, though, we come across a tradition so antithetical to Christ’s love that there is no gray area. One such practice is female genital mutilation. The ritual – which is often done in preparation for an early marriage – is dangerous, painful and unnecessary, it permanently damages a woman’s body, and it increases the maternal and infant mortality rate. It is also now illegal in Kenya.
At present, Cross Catholic Outreach is working with the sisters of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary in Kenya to provide a safe place for girls in danger of female genital mutilation and early forced marriages. That place is the Marie Adelaide Girls Rescue Center.
Here’s what the center’s director, Grace Nakaya, has to say about the work:
I have a passion for serving children, especially girls. I was a rescued girl, like them. When I was in primary school, my father tried to marry me off. Missionaries saved me. I know what it means to be given into marriage without your intention…
I want to teach youth and young women. I want to teach them about the love of God. When the girls come here, they were traumatized. As a result, they have low self-esteem. Here they have a home. Here they have hope. Here they have found the love of Christ. They are now complete. They know that female genital mutilation does not make them a woman. They now know that God has plans for their lives.
We are their family. The center helps the girls academically. The accommodations are great. I have seen lives changed.