I recently met up with Father Glenn Meaux in central Haiti. After a whirlwind tour of the housing, water and education projects we’re supporting this year, I sat down for a final chat with this compassionate priest from Louisiana who has spent the last 25 years running the Kobonal Haiti Mission.
I’d asked Fr. Meaux a lot of questions about himself. Now he wanted to tell me about Pope Francis.
“The whole dimension of the Church is changing,” he said of the Holy Father’s vision. “This will be a freeing atmosphere for the people in poor countries, who’ve been oppressed for so long, to be liberated from their poverty…With the blessing and inspiration of Pope Francis, this Mission will grow in leaps and bounds.”
Pope Francis’ liberating spirit is evident in the sights and sounds of the Mission: Fr. Meaux saying Mass in Creole on a weekday morning. School children singing “Thank you, Jesus” as they walk to their classrooms. Poor farmers gathered to tend the Mission garden so the students can eat fresh vegetables. Local families lining up to fill their buckets with clean water from the Mission well. And the 100-percent Haitian staff running the day-to-day operations of this thriving Catholic community.
Many needs remain, but one thing is certain. The ‘desert’ Fr. Meaux encountered over two decades ago – where children were starving, voodoo superstitions were rampant, and some poor families were desperate enough to perform human sacrifices – is no more. In its place, hope has taken a foothold and the love of Christ reigns.