We would like to share with you a significant event which took place in St Michel De l’Attalaye, Haiti, on Monday 22 April.
You are aware that our Sisters spent 28 years in that town and for many years it was our only mission in Haiti.
Last year three of the Inspectors of Schools in St Michel, Mme Paulene Joseph, M. Wilman Pierre, and M. Salnave Bien-Aimé, decided to relaunch a Centre of Professional Formation, and to name it after Sr. Jean Joseph Dekock, as a mark of appreciation for her sterling work, carried out over many years to help train teachers and to improve their skills. In the case of the three Directors of this Centre, thanks to their work with Jean Jo, they advanced greatly in their profession.
We see it as a well deserved honour for Jean Jo, and are happy with her that the Congregation lives on in this way in St Michel de l’Attalaye. We withdrew from there three years ago, but have been replaced by the Sisters of St Joseph de St Vallier, who continue the work of education there, after a period of transition assured by the staff.
So, Monday the 22nd was the big day. Jean Jo and Helen went up for the opening ceremony. Helen returned to Port-au-Prince the same day but Jean Jo was able to stay until Wednesday and meet with friends and colleagues.
Jean Jo tells how she lived all of this:
When the trio of formators told me of their project and of how they intended to name the Institute, I was surprised. Each of them reminded me of what I had done over and above my work in the school for which I was responsible. Encouraged by Helen and Maria, I accepted.
What is the range of courses offered by this Institute of Professional Formation?
• A course in school administration for school Principals
• Science of Education
• Tailoring and Sewing
• Culinary arts
• New agricultural techniques
All of these should be of benefit to the people of St Michel. With regard to education, for example, the area has more than 200 schools, but 75% of the teachers are not qualified.
In spite of our sudden departure in February 2015, Holy Union is still loved by the people of St Michel. Some comments I heard from people, speaking of the community, of course: “You were our sisters”, “Holy Union is engraved in my heart”, “We miss Holy Union”. Each of the people I met asked for news of well -loved Sr Apolline, of Sr Mary with her special charism, of the unforgettable Sr Elizabeth, and of Sr Genevieve, who was adopted immediately, and of the others who spent some time in St Michel over the years: Sr Veronica Benoit (USA), Sr Marie Casey (AHT) and Sr Carmen Poyatos (AHT), who are remembered fondly.
I mentioned that I shared what I had received from the Lord and from the Congregation. I felt that in welcoming me, they were greeting all.
Life is difficult in St Michel as it is throughout the country, but to see those responsible for formation considering the real needs of the area and trying to respond is meaningful and a sign of hope.
A word from Helen:
I was really touched by the warmth and friendliness of the welcome we received, as always. It is heartwarming to see how our sisters are loved and held in high esteem by so many in St Michel. Many teachers benefitted from these evening classes and many remember Jean Jo and her expertise, wisdom, and good collaboration. It was well worth the long journey!
We wanted to share this good news story with all of you, and more especially with those who know Haiti, and have followed our story over the years.
We were indeed blessed. We thank God.
Sr Jean Joseph Dekock
Sr Helen Ryder