In the Words of Bishop Jean

Dear Friends,

As we prepared to bring you the second installment of our ministry in the Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, we received word of the dire and dangerous situation that has reached a moment of escalation facing their country right now.

Our heart is heavy for the people in Haiti.

Even in the midst of this crisis, we feel it is important to share Bishop Désinord Jean’s story. He and his people are strong, and they would never want their story to be suppressed by the violence and chaos they are facing.

Within the article, Bishop Jean shares,

CLI is God's instrument to help the Church, in Haiti, in the US, everywhere."

Let’s be that instrument today through our prayers. One of the most beautiful aspects of our CLI community is our reliance on the power of prayer. Your prayers are strongly needed today for Bishop Jean, his people, and his country.

As you continue to follow this story in the Diocese of Hinche, I think you will be further moved knowing that this great faith and powerful ministry perseveres even in these times of great uncertainty.

I thank you for your prayers, and I invite you to read about Bishop Jean’s great vision and great care for his people.

READ BELOW to learn what inspired those powerful words as well as a mission from Bishop Jean!

p.s. If you missed last week’s story, CLICK HERE to catch up.

Prayer for Haiti

We turn to you, Mary, our Mother.
Help now as we pray with the people of Haiti.

Our Mother of Sorrows, with strength from above you stood by the cross, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, and with tender care you bore Him in your arms, mourning and weeping.

May the People of Haiti be consoled by you. May your example inspire them so that their sorrow in the face of such pain and loss not overwhelm their confidence in God’s love and presence. May we be inspired by their trust in you, Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Mother of God, stand by us all in our trials and care for us in our many needs. Give us hope now and at the hour of our death.

We ask this, united with all people in the Heart Christ.

Society of the Sacred Heart

“There is a saying: since you can breathe, you have to continue to live. The situation in Haiti is very tough. In my lifetime, I have never seen things like the violence and the gangs there. But can we stop living? No. We have to continue; we have to move forward… because we believe that things will change one day. We could cross our arms and do nothing. But we cannot. We have to move forward.

I would love for this experience with CLI to be an example for the Church in Haiti. With humility I can say this: the Diocese of Hinche is different because of our work with CLI.”

~Bishop Désinord Jean

Planning for the Future Amidst Great Challenge

The Diocese of Hinche faces the challenge of serving a Catholic population scattered across a rural geography. The families have low incomes, the infrastructure is poor (transportation, utilities, and technology), and the society overall is increasingly secularized. As a country, Haiti, is under threat, facing daily and escalating violence and destruction from gang members. Transportation of goods is faulty or derailed from urban cores and unemployment rises as businesses shutter. Although Hinche has been relatively calm, the terror in Port au Prince, the main port and hub of commerce and industry, impacts diocesan residents every day. The concerns are real, caution is a necessity, and the decline of order is psychologically burdensome.

Planning for the future is almost a luxury.

At the heart of that faithful eye on the future is Bishop Désinord Jean. Bishop Jean is a special leader with a diverse array of talents and an inspiring faith. The Diocese of Hinche is poised to do beautiful things.

Of this planning for the future, Bishop Jean knew the call was clear: the diocese must “build on our own.” That is, the diocese should work toward economic self-sufficiency to best serve the needs of the faithful. Social realities cannot be separated from spiritual needs and the work is rooted in what is best for human dignity in Haiti. It will take many years. But, Bishop Jean and his people are rising to the occasion.

Bold Bishop with a Vision

Bishop Jean has a gift for great vision that began with his call to the priesthood. As a young boy, his father asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I just heard myself say 'priest'. I didn’t know where it came from.” From that moment, he knew his future.

Bishop Jean is also a great visionary when it comes to the future for the Diocese of Hinche. For two years, he has found great value in how CLI has helped him put action steps around that vision. Further, he worked alongside CLI as a participant in the CLI Bishops’ Sessions last February in Orlando, FL – we were blessed to have Bishop Jean join us, and that experience has further enhanced his leadership. The science behind the planning and the faith that CLI brings is so significant to him.

Bishop shares,

“Now that we have a plan, we can see where we are going. Our plan is at the heart for all of the planning of the diocese through the next 25 years... in Haiti we often just think ‘tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow’ but planning 20-25 years ahead for Haiti or any organization is important. The Church is way bigger than this little person of myself. I am called to lead this diocese, but I must plan for the future and for what is after me.”

Three Important Priorities:
  1. Economic Development
  2. Equipping the Lay Faithful
  3. Leading with Pastoral Care

The first step of working with CLI was to name the goals and plan how to reach them.

Catholic Leadership Institute has accompanied Bishop Jean in putting together a priority plan for the diocese, as well as the milestones to move them forward. Bishop Jean describes CLI Leadership Consultant, Barb Eckert, who assisted with this endeavor as “just wonderful.” At the root of this plan is communication, sustainability, and equipping the faithful so that they can bring Jesus to others.

Last week, we shared with you Bishop’s full Pastoral Plan and milestones. They are progressing forward on all of their goals, despite the challenges of their country and the world.

Bishop shares, “The words ‘our goals’ are always in our ears and we keep moving forward… CLI helped us to gather ourselves and be together and to share our ideas.”

Goals Move Forward, Step by Step

Below are quick insights on three of the Diocese of Hinche’s goals in the words of Bishop Jean:

Providing Student Scholarships: Offering scholarship opportunities is critical to Bishop Jean. “The best way for Haiti to change is education; it is the key. We have to start with that. Some of the young people here are very smart, but they have no opportunity. [With scholarships] we can help them, and after, they will come back and work for the diocese. Education is the key to change.”

Reaching Souls Through Radio: Bishop Jean has a background in Communications with a degree from Gregorian University in Rome. He also spent time in charge of the Catholic radio station in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He and his team are hard at work improving the radio system in Hinche so that he can bring Jesus to more people. He says, “I found out how powerful media is in Haiti. We included the station in our goals because this is a good way to evangelize. If I have a message today, and I put it on the radio, it will reach 10% of the faithful. The new station will cover 100% of the diocese. We want to work with social media as well to reach people.”

Bringing Bibles to Every Household: Bishop Jean has seen the Bible transform his people. Right now, he is dedicated to getting every household in the diocese a Bible. While that has been held up by many delays, particularly through Covid-related supply chain issues, he refuses to give up. “Much of this Pastoral Plan is about spreading the Word of God. We have to put a light on the Word of God and that is the Bible. How can we give people access to the Bible? We are going to distribute the Bibles to the parishes and help people to get closer to the word of God. This has been a big motivation through the parishes… we had training on the Word of God. We did Lectio Divina. When we taught people to pray with the Bible, we saw people gathering in the churches to pray the Word of God together. We still don’t have [Bibles for every household] but would like to get them – by the beginning of 2023. It’s a lot of money to give everyone a Bible, but we need to distribute.”

Beyond the Goals

It was that next step — the movement from goal to action — that inspired the generous philanthropy of Drew and Susan Peloubet. Drew believed that a plan was a beautiful piece of this puzzle; however, the diocese must take action to deepen faith, create sustainability, and bring more people to Jesus. It has been CLI’s honor to be a part of this movement.

It is easy to hear how grateful Bishop Jean is to Drew and Susan for empowering this relationship between CLI and the Diocese of Hinche:

“I feel like I am the luckiest person. Meeting Drew, that impacted my faith in God. It is like God called me to work for Him and He sent me friends, Drew and Susan, to help support me in doing His job. Beyond my person, Drew and Susan are committed to helping the Church in Haiti and making such a difference in Church life in Haiti today. It’s a new thing, this project. It’s a new way for the Church in Hinche today and for the Church today in Haiti. Words of thanks are not enough. I’m so grateful.

“We are called by Jesus.”

Next week, I will share more about the faithful friendship between Bishop Jean and the Peloubets.

But for now, I leave you with these powerful instructions from Bishop Jean:

“We are called by Jesus. Being called by Jesus, we have to be close to Him so we can experience that transformation and the Gospel. All who have met Jesus Christ have had an experience that transformed their lives that keeps on transforming it. After leaving that experience, the disciple sees the work of Jesus. Jesus talked to you, and you cannot keep it for yourself. You have to go out. This is the mission part. Go out and transform. Not only by proclaiming the Word of God, but the way you are as a person, the witness.”

Keep Bishop Jean, the Diocese of Hinche, the country of Haiti, and all Catholics in your prayers as we all seek to witness and transform!

by Mike School

September 22, 2022

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