June 28, 2011
New York - Last April (18-21)Deacon Demetrio Romeo, cleric of the St. Vladimir Church in Miami, FL, flew to Haiti to meet with Haitian Orthodox who are benefiting from the Haiti Orthodox Family Relief program (HOFR) and to assess their current needs. Fr. Demetrio shared his impressions of the trip and the state of the mission with the Fund for Assistance.
Was this your first visit to Haiti? What were your impressions?
-Yes this was my first visit to Haiti. My impressions are difficult to put into words. The news reports and images of a country devastated by the earthquake did not prepare me for the emotions evoked by the sites that struck me when I arrived in Haiti: scores of people homeless and living in tent cities, the sick and the hungry everywhere, palpable despair and grief. The suffering was everywhere; there was no escaping it. Despite this, the Orthodox parishioners I met were pious, humble, grateful, and expressed gratitude to God for the little they had.
I am now involved in enterprises to help the Haitians manifest sustainable communities in service to God and committed to compassionate excellence and interdependent prosperity.
- The mission is still struggling and in need of the most basic needs, food, water, clothing etc. Despite this, they managed this year to maintain all the churches, schools and assisting parishioners. They are moving forward with a number of projects in collaboration with Orthodox Christians in the USA. We are looking at implementing a number of projects that will help the Orthodox Christians in Haiti develop a sustainable community. Also, a Church is under construction in Jacmel. It is in the engineering phase, and we will require assistance with raising monies to complete it.
What stands out in your memory as you think of the trip?
-The piety of the Haitian Orthodox people. Their gratitude and faith despite their circumstances. They are committed to the faith, which for them means being Christ-like and grateful regardless of their circumstances and sharing the certainty of God's Love. Regardless of their circumstances, they were pious, grateful, kind, joyful and humble.
How are they different from the Orthodox in the U.S.?
-More pious, authentic, gracious and welcoming of people not in their ethnic group.
Members of the Haitian Orthodox do not like to complain or dwell on their sufferings. How can you explain that?
-They trust in God. When they are faced with challenges, they still see God’s blessings. They don't complain; instead, they send up continuous prayers and worship God. “Glory to God!”
What do they want their brothers and sisters in Christ to know about them?
-That they are committed to building and expanding the Orthodox Church in Haiti. They are one with Christ and they will keep praying for the Church and all Orthodox Christians. The HOFR fund helps them expand by supporting those people in the Church to do the work they are called to.